Afghanistan take on Ireland in a full three-format series in India comprising 3 T20Is, 5 ODIs and a solitary Test that commences on 21st February.
The series, which will be hosted by Afghanistan, will be played entirely at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The only Test in the upcoming bilateral series will mark the maiden game in whites between the two new full members.
While Afghanistan will be looking to gain momentum ahead of their World Cup campaign, Ireland will be looking to avenge its loss to the same opposition in the World Cup Qualifiers held last year.
1st T20I 06.30pm February 21st, Thursday
2nd T20I 06.30pm February 23rd, Saturday
3rd T20I 06.30pm February 24th, Sunday
1st ODI 01.00pm February 28th, Thursday
2nd ODI 01.00pm March 02nd, Saturday
3rd ODI 01.00pm March 05th, Tuesday
4th ODI 01.00pm March 08th, Friday
5th ODI 01.00pm March 10th, Sunday
10.00am March 15th, Friday – March 19th, Tuesday
The month-long series also sees the two boards revise the end date keeping in mind the early start of the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League from March 23rd.
“Initially, we planned to conclude the series on March 23rd but keeping in mind the dates of the Indian Premier League in which three of Afghanistan’s main players will be participating, the dates were slightly adjusted and I would like to thank Cricket Ireland for honouring our request,” ACB CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai said.
The five-match series, particularly, will be key to Afghanistan in their preparation for the 2019 World Cup, reckoned Stanikzai. “The series will be important for Afghanistan as we are in the preparation stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and we are certain that both sides will play competitive cricket.”
For Ireland, the last fixture of the tour might be the most significant one – since it will be their first-ever overseas Test assignment.
“The importance of this series to both nations cannot be understated, so it was important that we could ensure the fans did not miss out on a clash that will see best v best in terms of players available. We hope this slight amendment to playing days does not impact too much on the travel bookings of any fans attending the series. We look forward to a great series – which will include Ireland’s first overseas Test match,” CEO of Cricket Ireland Warren Deutrom said.
The only Test will be the first of two for Ireland in 2019, with William Porterfield’s men playing a four-day match against England at Lord’s from July 24th to 27th. Ireland and Afghanistan, who lost to Pakistan and India respectively in their inaugural Tests in 2018 will be looking for their first wins.
With a number of Afghan internationals being exposed to numerous T20 competitions in the world, they enter the series as the firm favourites. In Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan arguably has the best spin attack in the world with the likes of Karim Janat and Sayed Shirzad complementing them.
The presence of Hazratullah Zazai at the top of the order would send shivers down the Irish men’s spines and if he were to take off, it would surely mean curtains for Ireland.
Under the captaincy of Paul Stirling, Ireland won two out of their three games in the recently concluded Quadrangular series and have settled upon a side which has Kevin O’Brien playing as a specialist batsmen.
With spin set to play a role in the match, Simi Singh and Dockrell will be key against the might of the Afghanistan batting. Joshua Little’s pace has been impressive and he will be one to keep eye on.
T20I Squad: Paul Stirling(c), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Joshua Little, Andy McBrine, Kevin O Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Simi Singh, Harry Tector, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker Ireland
ODI Squad: William Porterfield(c), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, James McCollum, Kevin O Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker Ireland
Test Squad: William Porterfield(c), Andrew Balbirnie, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker
T20I Squad: Asghar Afghan(c), Usman Ghani, Najeeb Tarakai, Hazratullah Zazai, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Farid Malik, Sayed Shirzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Ziaur Rahman Afghanistan
ODI Squad: Asghar Afghan(c), Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Dawlat Zadran, Zahir Khan, Farid Malik, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, Sayed Shirzad Afghanistan
Test Squad: Asghar Afghan(c), Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Ali Khil, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Waqar Salamkheil
“It will no doubt be a test for the entire squad – taking on Afghanistan in subcontinent conditions will require a level of adjustment by both our batting and bowling units,” said Ireland’s Andrew Balbirnie.
“Afghanistan are a quality side with some world-class players, and will be a great challenge in their ‘home’ conditions.
“We are fortunate that [Ireland head coach] Graham Ford has scheduled a batting camp in December which will provide a number of our batsmen with some exposure to those conditions.
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