Afghanistan will face an Ireland side looking for a turnaround in the ODI series after a disastrous T20I outing. They meet each other for the first time since that famous game in Harare, which saw Afghanistan qualify for the 2019 World Cup alongside the Windies. Both the teams haven’t played One-Day Internationals since the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe earlier this year, and with Ireland not a part of the World Cup next year, the series may not have a lot at stake – except definitely for the hosts, who need a series win to convince the world once again, unfortunately, that they are good enough.
It won’t be easy for the hosts though as Afghanistan are at No.10 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings for Men, while Ireland occupy the 12th spot. Both teams haven’t played ODIs since the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 in Zimbabwe in March.
1st ODI – Aug 27, Mon @ Civil Service Cricket Club, Belfast 03:15pm
2nd ODI – Aug 29, Wed @ Civil Service Cricket Club, Belfast 03:15pm
3rd ODI – Aug 31, Fri @ Civil Service Cricket Club, Belfast 03:15pm
The third match of the T20I series scheduled for Friday, 24 August, was abandoned due to a waterlogged outfield at the Bready Cricket Club. Afghanistan won the series 2-0, continuing their limited-overs dominance over the hosts. The T20Is conceded, William Porterfield and his men will now look to turn things around in the three ODI matches, the first of which will be contested in Belfast today.
The stats going for Ireland though is that despite Afghanistan’s recent successes, the head-to-head between the sides is pretty level. Of the 19 ODIs the two sides have played against each other, Afghanistan have won eight, Ireland have won nine and two games stand abandoned. The last time the two sides met in a bilateral series, Ireland took the honours, winning the series 2-1 in alien Sharjah conditions.
Afghanistan on the other hand are on a neurotic four-match winning streak – even though it’s been a while since then – that helped them qualify for the World Cup, and as much as that’s in the past, it’ll play its part. The equations have changed.
Ireland: Niall O’Brien and Tim Murtagh coming into the side boosts Ireland’s morale and arsenal.
Afghanistan: Pace bowler Wafadar gets his maiden call-up to the side and is set to add an interesting dynamic to his side’s pace attack. Rashid and Mujeeb are expected to continue Ireland’s trial by spin, this time across longer spells.
Ireland: Paul Stirling, William Porterfield(c), Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O Brien(w), Kevin O Brien, James Shannon, Gary Wilson, Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Peter Chase, Andy McBrine, Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh, David Delany
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad(w), Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Asghar Afghan(c), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawlat Zadran, Sayed Shirzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Wafadar
Hazratullah Zazai played a crucial role in his country’s victory in the T20I series as he played with a supreme strike rate of around 179 and Rashid Khan remains the number one bowler in the T20I rankings released yesterday. Ireland, however, would like to make a turnaround in ODI. They will rely on their star performers, Niall O’Brien, Tim Murtagh, Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien and Gary Wilson will be crucial to holding their batting line-up together and launching into attack mode when required against the considerably experienced Afghanistan bowling.
Let’s get in some action folks, lots of it in the pipeline!
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