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Afghanistan v Ireland 2024

Afghanistan-Ireland Test shifts venue due to school championship

Abu Dhabi cricket
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

The standalone Test match between Afghanistan and Ireland, scheduled to begin on February 28, 2024, had to be moved from Abu Dhabi’s primary ground.

Afghanistan are hosting Ireland for a Test match, three ODIs, and three T20Is in their adopted home of the UAE. The Test match was scheduled to be played in Abu Dhabi from February 28, while the Sharjah Cricket Stadium was expected to host the ODIs from March 7 and the T20Is from March 15.

The Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi’s primary cricket venue with a capacity of 20,000, has hosted 13 Test matches featuring Pakistan between 2010/11 and 2018/19, and two more between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe in 2020/21. It has also hosted more than a hundred limited-overs matches.

This time, however, the fourth day of the Afghanistan-Ireland Test match coincided with the Abu Dhabi Schools Sports Championship, where 1,000 teams and 25,000 athletes will participate.

The match had to be moved to the adjacent Tolerance Oval, a venue that can accommodate 12,000 people. The venue has hosted 19 T20Is, including the Qualifiers for the 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup and the 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup. Before that, in 2018/19, the UAE had hosted Australia for a standalone men’s T20I here.

There have been instances of sporting contests having to be moved for similar reasons. Perhaps the most high-profile occurrence was in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, when Uruguay versus France had to be moved to the White City Stadium in London, not a traditional venue, because the owners of Wembley were not keen to change the date for a greyhound racing event.

Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and opted to bat in the Test match. Rahmanullah Gurbaz debuted for Afghanistan, while Ireland included the uncapped trio of Barry McCarthy, Craig Young, and Theo van Woerkom. Afghanistan were 10-0 at the time of writing.

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