KABUL — The Taliban has approved Afghanistan’s first cricket Test since their takeover, saying the Afghan team can play with other international teams.

This overture by the Taliban has raised hopes that sports will continue as usual under the terror group. Notably, the organized sport was prohibited under the previous Taliban regime.

The deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission Ahmadullah Wasiq said that the terror group supported its staging, saying all previously organized matches “will continue without interruption, and [the Afghan team] can play with other international teams.”

“In the future, we want good relations with all countries,” he said.

“When good relations are established, Afghan players can go [to Australia], and they can come here.”

Recently, Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Pakistan, which was due to get underway in Sri Lanka on Aug. 27, was postponed indefinitely as the war-torn country descended into chaos last month.

The terror group took over Kabul on Aug. 15, and the country’s democratically government collapsed.

Cricket Australia spokesperson said it was still pushing ahead with plans for the Test, which is due to start in Hobart on Nov. 27.

“There is goodwill between CA and the Afghanistan Cricket Board to make the match happen, which immediately follows the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE in which the Afghanistan team is due to play,” the spokesperson said.

“CA will continue to work with the Australian and Tasmanian governments ahead of the Afghanistan team’s arrival planned for later this year.”

Despite Taliban assurances given to male cricketers in the country, the fate of the women’s program remains unclear.

Last month, Taliban leaders met with players and officials from the Board and “expressed hope that the Afghan national cricket team, which has always had achievements in Afghanistan, would continue these successes and achievements.”

The return of the Taliban has sparked fear among Afghans and the international community reviving memories of the terror group’s previous stint in power.

“Great pleasure to receive Azizullah Fazli Chairman of Afghanistan Cricket Board and promotion of cricket exchanges between the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” tweeted Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan.

During the first rule, the Taliban imposed its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Most forms of entertainment were banned — including many sports — and stadiums doubled as public execution venues.

Sports that the Taliban did allow were strictly controlled and were for only for men to play and watch.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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