Melbourne, Jul 2: World number one ODI team, Australia, will play the emerging Afghanistan cricket team in the Middle East next month in the latest step that recognises Afghanistan's increasing importance in world cricket, a media release from Cricket Australia (CA) said on Monday.
The game has been organised as a warm-up for the Australia-Pakistan series, which immediately precedes the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, in which Australia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are all competing in September-October.
CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said Australia had been actively looking for a chance to play Afghanistan for some time and found an opportunity once details of the imminent Pakistan-Australia series in the Middle East had started to become clear.
"Everyone in world cricket have been really impressed with how cricket has flourished in Afghanistan, despite its pressing national problems," he said.
"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".
"We also look forward to hosting Afghanistan in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Australia in August".
Sutherland said the details of the Afghanistan fixture had been finalised in off-line discussions at last week's ICC Annual Conference in Kuala Lumpur.
The Afghanistan game is being scheduled to allow the Australian team to acclimatise before taking on Pakistan.
In February 2010, the Afghan cricket team secured qualification to the 2010 ICC World Twenty20, the team's first major tournament. They have also qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2012 in Sri Lanka.