Zimbabwe Cricket have asked their players involved in the ongoing Shpageeza Cricket League in Afghanistan to return home immediately after a suicide bomber killed three people near one of the gates of the Kabul International Stadium on Wednesday (September 13).
The domestic Twenty20 league, which was originally scheduled to be played in July, finally kicked off on Monday, but the unfortunate security situation in the country seems to have returned to haunt the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s (ACB) attempts of opening up the gates to international cricket in the country.
The recent attack took place at the outer perimeter of the stadium when Boost Defenders and MIS Ainak Knights were taking each other on in the second match of the day.
“The blast happened during a match between Amo Sharks and Kabul Eagles in which Hamilton Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami, Solomon Mire and Richard Ngarava played. They were part of nine players that were supposed to ply their trade in the T20 league,” read a release from ZC. “The other players are Vusi Sibanda, Elton Chigumbura, Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams.”
No players, match officials or dignitaries were hurt in the assault, but Darlington Majonga, the ZC spokesperson, confirmed to The Herald that they have had a chat with their Afghan counterparts and asked for all Zimbabwean players to be put on the first plane out of Kabul on Thursday.
“Following today’s events, Zimbabwe Cricket has ordered that all Zimbabwean players who are in Afghanistan should be put on the first plane out of Kabul so that they return home and we have communicated that with our counterparts in that country,’’ said Majonga.
The match was interrupted for a brief period till security men ensured everything was under control. Play resumed shortly, but it triggered a lot of fear amongst the public and some players taking part.
Mohammad Salim Rasouli, the Health Ministry official in Kabul, said that three people were confirmed dead, while at least 12 people, including two children, were wounded in the blast.
“Although we have been given assurance that the players are safe, we have decided against taking any chances and that is why we need all our players back home as soon as possible,” said Majonga. “We believe that efforts are now being made by our Afghan counterparts to ensure that our players get on the first plane and fly back home.’’
Earlier, the tournament was postponed because of a ghastly bomb blast near the German Embassy in Kabul on May 31 that claimed 90 lives and caused over 400 injuries in the capital.
The ACB blamed a Pakistan-based terror unit for the attack and chose to cut down all ties with the Pakistan Cricket Board. In response, the PCB decided to withdraw all their players from the tournament, taking a lot of sheen away from the competition.
All six teams in the tournament are scheduled to play each other in a total of 15 league matches, with the top four sides battling it out in two qualifiers and an eliminator on the road to the final, which is planned for September 22.