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|Mujib Ur Rahman||10.0||2||26||1||2.60|
Unlike the T20I series, which happened to be a one-way street with Afghanistan dominating throughout, the ODIs between Ireland and Afghanistan have seen the momentum shift to and fro between the two sides. The first match was won by Afghanistan whereas Ireland dominated the proceedings in the third. The fourth ODI saw both the sides being in dominating positions at different stages, but Afghanistan eventually came on top on the back of a superior bowling performance. Before we finally move to the longest format of the game, we have one last match remaining in what has already been a really long series. The fifth ODI will be played at the same venue on Sunday, 10th March.
Afghanistan portrayed their same old problem of unreliable batting something which we have seen on all four occasions they've come out to bat in the series so far. However, unlike the last ODI, their bowlers proved to be mighty effective in the defense of an under-par total.
Mohammad Nabi, Asghar Afghan, and Rashid Khan scripted a turnaround of the highest order as the trio lifted Afghanistan from 81 for 6 to a competitive total of 223 which they eventually defended with considerable ease. Although they won the match, the inconsistent top-order which has consistently failed to impress in the last few matches will be a cause of concern for the management.
The frequent shuffling in the batting order hasn't helped their cause either as none of Afghan's experiment seems to be working. Bowling, however, after struggling in the last ODI performed at it's usual best as they dismissed Irish side for a paltry total. There is no doubt that Afghanistan has a spin battery that only a few teams in the entire world could challenge and if their batsmen can somehow step up their game, Afghanistan could very well be difficult to beat not just in the upcoming match, but also in the World Cup.
M Shahzad, MJ Ahmadi, R Shah, Asghar Afghan, N Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan, S Zadran.
Ireland rode on the brilliance of George Dockrell and Andrew Balbirnie in the third ODI where they overhauled a decent total coming from behind. In the fourth ODI, however, the struggle of Irish batsmen was once again apparent as they all folded for a cumulative total of 114.
The Irish side is expected to field the same eleven as in their last match. Skipper William Porterfield looked good in his short stay before getting dismissed to Aftab Alam and his return to form will give a lot of confidence to the Irish team. Even though the Irish batting has repeatedly failed in the competition so far, there have been a couple of moments of brilliance which they'll be looking for a repeat and seize in the upcoming match.
Unlike their batting, the Irish bowling has done reasonably well, though aided by some poor shot selection of Afghanistan's batsmen. Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin, and Andy McBrine have been brilliant upfront, but it's been their middle-overs bowling which has lacked penetration. In almost all the matches done in the ODI series so far, Ireland allowed Afghanistan to rack up a competitive total despite having them on the mat at one stage. Their bowlers need to adopt a more aggressive approach in the middle overs and if their batsmen contribute well - as they did in the third match, there's no reason Ireland cannot win the upcoming fixture.
WTS Porterfield, PR Stirling, Andy Balbirnie, Simi Singh, Kevin O'Brien, George Dockrell, Stuart Poynter, Andy McBrine, James Cameron, TJ Murtagh, WB Rankin.
After a rather one-sided T20I series, it's been really refreshing to see the way the two teams have fought in the fifty-over format. Afghanistan, although, have done better than the Irish side thus far, they have plenty of room for improvement before heading to England to play the important ICC tournament. Ireland, on the other hand, did exceedingly well in the third ODI and have been in a position to dictate terms often in the series before failing to seize the opportunity. Overall, Afghanistan have emerged to be a better side in the series and they are the firm favorites to win the upcoming match and wrap the series 3-1.
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