:The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has sacked Hamid Shinwari as its chief executive and replaced him with Naseeb Khan, the second major change in the game's national governing body since the Taliban took control of the country last month.
The Taliban named a new government this month after sweeping to power when the Western-backed government collapsed as U.S.-led foreign forces were completing their withdrawal.
Shinwari confirmed to Reuters that he had been fired from his post. The ACB announced Khan as Shinwari's replacement in a Twitter post https://twitter.com/ACBofficials/status/1439963194697605126 on Tuesday.
"Without any reason the dismissal took place. At this time I can't add more," Shinwari said in a text message.
The ACB last month named Azizullah Fazli as its acting chairman in what was the board's first major appointment since the Taliban takeover.
Fazli denied media reports that Khan had any link to the militant Haqqani network, some of whose leaders now hold top posts in the Taliban government, and said the board had decided to replace Shinwari for cricketing reasons.
"Naseeb Khan is the new acting CEO. He has good knowledge of cricket," Fazli told Reuters.
"He holds a master's degree and is the acting CEO until we complete the recruitment process of board members. Then we will announce a (full-time) CEO."
Earlier this month, Shinwari urged other national teams not to shun the country over its new rulers' suggestion that they might ban women from the sport.
This came after the Australian cricket board said it would scrap a planned test match against the Afghanistan men's team if the Taliban did not allow women to play the sport.
Cricket Australia did not comment on the latest development while the world governing body, the International Cricket Council, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ICC, which in the past has penalised members for government interference in cricket administration, recently said it would discuss the Afghan issue at its next board meeting in November.
The Afghan women's squad was disbanded amid safety concerns a few years after it was formed in 2010 but the ACB revived the team last year and gave contracts to 25 players.
The Taliban say they have changed since their 1996-2001 rule, when they barred women from leaving home without a male relative and shut schools for girls, but they stirred scepticism when they said last week that they would open schools for high school-aged boys but not girls.
Cricket was first played in Afghanistan by British troops in the 19th century, but it took root in the 1990s after Afghans who had learnt the game in refugee camps in Pakistan returned home.
It was initially banned by the Taliban during their 1996-2001 rule but later permitted and has since become hugely popular.
The Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed in Pakistan in 1995 and the ACB joined the ICC in 2001 as an affiliate member, gaining full membership in 2017.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Kabul bureau; additional reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne and Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Robert Birsel)