Cricket-Australia line up first match against Afghanistan

SYDNEY, July 2 Mon Jul 2, 2012 8:54am IST

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SYDNEY, July 2 (Reuters) - Australia will play Afghanistan for the first time next month in what is likely to be a one-day international in the United Arab Emirates, Cricket Australia (CA) said on Monday.

Full details of the match, including the format, have yet to be finalised, CA said in a news release, but the Australians view the fixture as recognition of Afghanistan's "increasing importance in world cricket".

"Everyone in world cricket have been really impressed with how cricket has flourished in Afghanistan, despite its pressing national problems," said CA chief James Sutherland.

"As an ICC member, CA strongly supports world cricket's ambition for cricket to continue to develop as a global sport and that, combined with the strong relationships between our two countries, encouraged us to look at how we might recognise and encourage Afghanistan by playing them on the field."

Afghanistan received ODI status during their failed attempt to qualify for last year's World Cup and played their first match in the 50-over format against a test-playing nation when they took on Pakistan in February, losing by seven wickets in Sharjah.

Australia, ranked number one in the ICC rankings for one-day internationals, will use the match as a warm-up for a three-match ODI series against Pakistan, which will also be played in the UAE in late August and early September.

Pakistan have played their home series at neutral venues since an attack by gunmen in Lahore in March 2009 killed seven people and injured five players.

The Afghans have also been restricted to playing matches in neutral venues because of security problems but will take part in their first major international tournament at the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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