Just before the start of the Asia Cup which will be played in the United State Emirates (UAE) from August 27, 2022, the Afghanistan cricket team is showing some serious intent. With cricketing giants such as India and Pakistan playing in the tournament, not many are giving Afghanistan the chance to do well in the multi-nation event. Afghanistan too showed signs of panic as they faced heavy defeats at the hands of the Irish in the first two T20Is. But things seem to change for Afghanistan as they showed very positive intent in the 3rd T20I.
Ireland skipper Andrew Balbernie won the toss and decided to bat first. Afghanistan openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz had their job cut out and they went just kept on tonking the Irish bowlers from the word go. Both of them put an impressive 90-run stand for the first wicket by the completion of 11 overs. Gurbaz departed after a quickfire 53 off 35 deliveries and struck 8 boundaries and 1 six. On the other hand, Hazratullah Zazai was patient enough to hold one end and scored a sublime 39 off 40 deliveries. With Rahmanullah Gurbaz going out all guns blazing, Hazratullah Zazai needed to hold one end.
After Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, walked out Ibrahim Zadran banked on this good start and scored 36 off 22 deliveries. But it was Najibullah Zadran who made sure that Afghanistan finish on a high. Zadran scored 42 off 18 deliveries. Afghanistan ended with a mammoth total of 189 which the Irish needed to chase down to claim a series victory.
When Irish openers walked out to bat, they had to make sure that they do not throw their wickets away and keep the net run rate (NRR) in control. To their dismay, Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie were dismissed in quick succession and the hosts were left reeling at 19/2 at the end of 4 overs. Wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker tried to mend things but he departed after scoring 31 off 21 deliveries.
With half of the side dismissed for just 58 runs, George Dockrell and Fionn Hand took the onus upon themselves to chase the target down. Dockrell scored 58 off 37 deliveries and Hand ended up scoring 36 off 18 deliveries. Unfortunately, these cameos couldn't help the hosts and they were bundled out on 167, 22 runs short of what Afghanistan had scored.
Ireland will now look to turn up with a positive mindset for the next game and inflict a series defeat on the visitors.
Ireland Playing XI: Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie(c), Lorcan Tucker(w), Harry Tector, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Curtis Campher, Fionn Hand, Mark Adair, Graham Hume, Joshua Little
Afghanistan Playing XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz(w), Usman Ghani, Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi(c), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi