Ahmed Shah Pakteen becomes first on-field Test umpire from Afghanistan
Zimbabwe are currently on a tour of the United Arab Emirates to play a two-test series against Afghanistan followed by three T20Is. The first test between the two sides scheduled from March 2 to 6 at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, ended in a 10-wicket win for Zimbabwe. Four players made their debut in the test match. But there was also a fifth individual appearing in his first test match — he was Ahmad Shah Pakteen, the first on-field umpire from Afghanistan to officiate in a test match. The other on-field umpire in the match was the Pakistan veteran Aleem Dar.
Member of International Panel of Umpires
While the match gave Pakteen his first test match experience as an on-field umpire, the Afghan official officiated in his first international match back in January 2017. He has in fact officiated in 35 matches, including 20 T20Is and 15 ODIs. Forty-four-year-old Ahmed Shah Pakteen belongs to the International Panel of ICC Umpires and has officiated in games in the 2015–17 ICC Intercontinental Cup. He made his international umpiring debut on 14 January 2017, when he became an on-field umpire in a T20I match between Hong Kong and Scotland in the 2017 Desert T20 Challenge tournament. On 15 March 2017, Pakteen was an on-field umpire for the first time in a One Day International game in an encounter between Ireland and Afghanistan.
TV Umpire in Ireland vs Afghanistan Test
Pakteen was previously involved as an official in test cricket in March 2019 as a TV umpire in the only test match played by Ireland and Afghanistan. In October 2019, the ICC named Pakteen among the twelve umpires chosen to umpire matches in the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier competition hosted by the United Arab Emirates. In January 2020, Pakteen was among the 16 umpires chosen to officiate at the Men’s U-19 World Cup, hosted by South Africa, becoming, in the process, the first Afghan umpire to officiate at a main event of the ICC.
Three Other Afghans in International Panel
There are three more Afghans, alongside Pakteen, in the international panel of umpires. They are Izatullah Safi, Bismillah Jan Shinwari and Ahmed Shah Durrani. However, Afghanistan is yet to be represented in the 12-member highest category of umpires, namely, the elite panel. Incidentally, the first test between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan was also a first for Ahmed Shah Durrani who became a TV umpire in a test match, the second Afghan after Pakteen to achieve the feat. Durrani has appeared as an on-field umpire in 19 limited-overs international matches. He officiated in his first international game in December 2016.
Ireland Only ICC Full Member Without On-Field Test Umpire
Pakteen’s debut as an on-field umpire in test cricket leaves Ireland as the only full-member of the ICC without on-field representation by a test match umpire. In their three-test match career, Ireland have had only one official representative in test cricket in the form of Mark Hawthorne who was appointed TV umpire when Ireland played their first test match against Pakistan in March 2018.
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