A 72-run loss in the first game of the series has come as a major wake-up call for Afghanistan before the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, reports ICC-Cricket.com.
Fresh off a series win against Scotland, Afghanistan lived up to their reputation with the ball, bundling out Ireland for 210 in the 49th over on Sunday, 19 May. However, a slow start and early top-order wickets in the chase left too much for the batsmen to follow, as the innings never seemed to gather any momentum thereafter. Asghar Afghan and Mohammad Nabi stitched together a 54-run stand, which was the only stabiliser in an innings that ended on 138.Under the newly-appointed captain, Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan will look to improve on that batting performance and tie the series, before heading to the World Cup, which gets underway on 30 May. The team might also include the experienced all-rounder, Samiullah Shenwari, in the XI when they take the field on Tuesday.
Ireland, meanwhile, used the overcast conditions to great effect to reduce the visitors to 40-4 in the first ODI. Mark Adair and Boyd Rankin shared seven wickets between them. Contributions from Paul Stirling and captain William Porterfield also come as great positives, as does Andy Balbirnie’s great form in 2019.
With conditions in their favour, an encore should give the hosts their first bilateral series victory since December 2017, when they beat the same opposition.
Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker and Gary Wilson.
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, CRashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan and Mujeeb ur Rahman.