Peshawar: The first-ever Afghan cricket team arrived on Tuesday on a week- long tour and said the visit was aimed at taking gradual steps into international cricket. "We are here on a tour of goodwill and aim to take gradual steps in international cricket," team captain Allahdad Noori said. All 17 members of the novice team are bearded and will play their matches in trousers, which they are not allowed to do at home, cricket officials said. The hardline Taleban militia which rules most of the Afghanistan has barred Afghans from wearing trousers in line with its puritanical interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. "We want to tell the world that Afghans can also play sports," Noori said. War-battered Afghanistan is isolated in the world and is under the United Nations sanctions for its refusal to hand over indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden. "Islam remains the first priority but ever since Taleban have taken control, cricket has become popular in Afghanistan," he said. A Pakistan club football team was treated shabbily by Taleban when it visited the militia's headquarters in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar last year. Players were arrested for playing in shorts and their heads were shaved. The Afghanistan team, invited here by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), will play two matches each in Peshawar and Rawalpindi. The first match will be against the Peshawar under-19 on Thursday. The International Cricket Council (ICC) last year donated cricket kits to Afghanistan when the ICC development manager for Asia, Nasimul Ghani, visited Kabul.
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