PM Modi hopes historic cricket match will boost ties with Afghanistan
Shikhar Dhawan (C) and Murali Vijay (L) Photograph: (AFP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday congratulated the people of Afghanistan as their national cricket team faces India in their historic first ever Test match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Afghanistan started its maiden five-day test match in Bengaluru on Thursday, with the match attended by top government officials from both sides.
The Prime Minister took to Twitter to wish luck to both the sides.
"I congratulate the people of Afghanistan as their cricket team plays their first international Test match. Glad that they have chosen to play the historic match with India. Best wishes to both teams! May sports continue to bring our people closer and strengthen ties," PM Narendra Modi wrote.
I congratulate the people of Afghanistan as their cricket team plays their first international test match. Glad that they have chosen to play the historic match with India. Best wishes to both teams! May sports continue to bring our people closer and strengthen ties.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 14, 2018
India's sports minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore, shook hands with Afghan players before the match and read out a congratulatory statement from Modi.
Awarded full member status by the International Cricket Council (ICC) alongside Ireland in June last year, Afghanistan became the 12th test-playing nation after first being recognised by the ICC in 2001. India is the world's top-ranked test side.
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai was presented with a memento from former India all-rounder Salim Durrani, who was born in Kabul before the match began.
India has already offered war-ravaged Afghanistan two stadiums in the country to host matches with other nations.
New Delhi enjoys close relations with Afghanistan and both accuse common neighbour Pakistan of not doing enough to stop Islamist militants operating on its territory.
"The historic friendship and relations between India and Afghanistan go back to centuries. I'm glad that cricket is now added as another layer," Afghanistan Cricket Board chairman Atif Mashal said in January when the date and venue of the match were announced.
(With inputs from Agencies)