IRE vs AFG: Teams from all around the globe are gearing up for the T20I World Cup which is scheduled to be played in Australia later this year. Cricketing giants like India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and South Africa are stationed in different parts of the globe and are getting enough time to put their plans in place for the multi-nation tournament. At the moment team Ireland is in a different zone altogether and playing their cricket with great intent. The rise of team Ireland started when India toured their country. India who was considered as favorite faced a tough time on the field from the hosts and they almost leveled the series in the 2nd and the final T20I. They continued with their dominant performance against New Zealand too and now they have defeated Afghanistan who was touted as the favorites in the recently concluded 5 matches T20I series.
In the series decider, Irish skipper Balbirnie won the toss and opted to field. As Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz opened, they wanted to give their team a strong start and put up a strong total on board. But their stay was shortened by Irish pacer Mark Adair who dismissed both the Afghanistan openers and left them reeling on 16/2. Adair, who was the wrecker-in-chief scalped another wicket as he dismissed Ibrahim Zadran which broke the back of the Afghan innings. With the top order cheaply dismissed for 22 runs, no. 4 Usman Ghani had his job cut out for him. The Afghan batter ensured that he puts the innings on track and scored a gritty 44 off 40 deliveries and struck 3 boundaries and 2 sixes. Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi was dismissed on 0 and had no impact on the game. Courtesy of Usman Ghani and Azmatullah's last-moment exploits, Afghanistan posted a total of 95 by the end of 15 overs.
Heavy rain settled in after the Afghanistan innings and the match was reduced to 7 overs in the second innings. Ireland needed 55 runs in 42 deliveries and they were expected to come out all guns blazing. Openers Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie put up 17 runs on the board by the end of 3 overs. After Balbernie departed, a determined Stirling kept on going and added another 21 runs with Lorcan Tucker before he departed for 16 runs. To Afghanistan's dismay, they never caused any trouble for Irish batsmen as they comfortably chased down the target with two balls remaining.
Ireland convincingly won the match and clinched the series by 3-2.
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, Fareed Ahmad Malik
Ireland Playing XI: Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie(c), Lorcan Tucker(w), Harry Tector, George Dockrell, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, Mark Adair, Simi Singh, Barry McCarthy, Joshua Little