Afghanistan are set to travel to Zimbabwe next month for their first international series tour hosted by a full member of the ICC.
Source:
AAP
12 Dec 2013 - 1:14 AM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2013 - 1:16 AM

Afghanistan will travel to Zimbabwe next month, an official said on Wednesday, marking the fast-improving side's first international series tour hosted by a full member of the ICC.

The series, planned for the end of January, is part of the team's development programme ahead of the World Cup in 2015, Afghanistan cricket board spokesman Farid Hotak told AFP.

"We are trying to have more games with the full members to prepare ourselves," he said.

Afghanistan have established themselves as one of the best associate sides in the ICC by qualifying for their third successive World Twenty20, to be held in Bangladesh next year.

They have also qualified for the first time for the 50-over World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

On Sunday in Sharjah, they lost to neighbouring giants Pakistan on the last ball in the first-ever Twenty20 international between the two countries.

They played their first ODI against a full-member country against the same opposition at the same venue last year in February.

Cricket has boomed in Afghanistan since the 1996-2001 Taliban era despite the bloody insurgency, and games are now a regular sight on any piece of open ground ranging from scruffy city parks to rural roads.

The sport only became popular as refugees flooded back from Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban, and the team's ascent is seen as a symbol of hope and national unity.