Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it is a matter of pride and honour for India to host Afghanistan's maiden Test match and paid tribute to the war-ravaged country's indomitable spirit.
"Its a matter of great pride and immense pleasure that Afghanistan has chosen to play its maiden Test match with India. The young and talented Afghan National Team has made a great stride in a very short period of time after it become an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2001," Modi said in a message read out by sports minister Rajyavardhan Rathore here.
Minister of State, Sports and Youth Affairs Mr. @Ra_THORe along with Mr. Abdullah Abdullah (Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), greet the two teams ahead of the start of play in Bengaluru.#INDvAFG pic.twitter.com/HtXNTqmXnn— BCCI (@BCCI) June 14, 2018
"It achieved the Test playing status last year. During that journey it has consistently performed against other ICC members and Test playing nations recording milestone victories over them in various formats of the game.
"These achievements have come about in challenging and difficult circumstances. This demonstrates the indomitable Afghan spirit to overcome all challenges and realise aspirations for a purposeful, stable, united and peaceful nation."
Modi congratulated both the cricket boards and also wished luck to India and Afghanistan for the historic Test.
"Today cricket is unifying force for the people of Afghanistan, India takes pride in being shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghanistan in this journey," the message read.
"It is an honour for Indian to host the Afghanistan National team at home grounds in Greater Noida and Dehradun. The people of India have shared the joys of millions of Afghans and the success of the players in tournament in India and elsewhere.
"I congratulate the Board of Cricket Control in India and the Afghanistan Cricket Board for organising this historic Test match . I convey my best wishes to both the teams, I'm sure the game will score a win for the renown Afghan fortitude and for the historic friendship between Indian and Afghanistan."
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief Atif Mashal also read out a statement from Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani.
"As President of Afghanistan, I welcome their maiden Test match against India. I am proud of the men who championed cricket in Afghanistan in the dawn of the century and believed in themselves that one day Afghanistan will play against the best in the world," the message read.
"Today is that historic day. On behalf of all Afghans I pay tribute to their contribution to the game of cricket and honour them for their contribution to the game. India and now Afghanistan are now two major Asian forces in cricket.
"We thank India and BCCI for their role in the development in Afghanistan cricket, and for organizing this match, and also request other Test-playing nations to organize Test series against Afghanistan.