LAHORE: Afghanistan’s series with Pakistan is set to go ahead as scheduled, despite the surrounding uncertainty following the Taliban’s takeover of the country. The three-match ODI series will take place in Sri Lanka, a venue decided before political events in recent days saw the Taliban take charge following the withdrawal of western forces and the collapse of the elected government. All three games will be played in Hambantota. The series is due to begin from September 3, but will involve a three-day quarantine period on arrival for both sides. That commitment, as well as an Under-19 tour to Bangladesh later in September, have been the focus of immediate concern though ACB CEO Hamid Shinwari said both tours were on, pending logistical issues around the departure of the side. Kabul airport has been the focus of international attention, as many Afghans attempt to leave the country. “Cricket is doing very well,” Shinwari was quoted as saying. “We are going to the office (ACB). The cricket team is preparing for the Pakistan series in Sri Lanka. It is confirmed. We are committed to sending a team to Sri Lanka as soon as possible. There is transition going on here in Afghanistan hence there is a vacuum in flight operations and availability is affected. But we will fly out as soon as we find a flight. We have our boys assembled in Kabul and they are preparing for the series. We hope the squad will depart in the next four days. We have updated both the PCB and Sri Lanka Cricket and both are on board. I am thankful to SLC for hosting us and that is really generous of them.” There remain longer-term questions around the Taliban’s approach to the development of the game in the country. It is worth noting that the Afghanistan Cricket Federation (as the Afghanistan Cricket Board was then known) was formed in 1997, during the Taliban’s first stint in rule and they were inducted into the Asian Cricket Council not long after. The game was at a different stage then to where it is now in the country and in much better health. The ICC is monitoring the situation as of now, with a little concern, but will provide support when and if needed on practical matters of playing cricket. Shinwari was confident the game would not be affected adversely. Cricket development in Afghanistan was initiated during Taliban’s first stint 20 years ago. One area where it is difficult to predict how the Taliban will proceed is in women’s cricket. Their first stint as rulers was especially regressive and damaging for women in the country. The ACB announced central contracts for a pool of 25 women’s cricketers last year but that was very much the first step on a long road: to date, Afghanistan are the only Full Member side without a functioning women’s team. Even then, ACB officials recognised the social, political and cultural difficulties in starting a women’s team in the country and that may become an even more distant prospect now.