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|Ikram Ali Khil||7||40||0||0||17.50|
A tour that started with three one-sided affairs of T20 Internationals turned into a grueling contest in the longer version of the game where the two sides had to share the honors with two wins apiece to their name. After being decimated in the ODI series, Ireland did superbly well to draw the series level after being behind twice in the series. 15th March will be marked as a historic day in Test Cricket as Afghanistan and Ireland both meet to play what would be the second ever test for both the sides. With a win in the final ODI, Ireland's preparations for the historical test certainly did get a massive boost. With both sides playing their second only test and only one of the teams likely to taste first success in the longest version of the game, emotions will be running high. We expect a cracker of a contest over the course of the next few days where the team that holds on to its nerves is more likely to come on top.
With ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 well within our sight, Afghanistan appeared to be searching for a right combination as they kept making changes to their playing eleven throughout the series. However, we are certain to see them put their best team forward in this upcoming fixture against Ireland.
Clearly, the Afghan batting lineup struggled in the ODI series with only two of their batsmen, Mohammad Nabi, and Asghar Afghan, contributing for the majority of their runs. More often than not, they were found four or five down without many on the board before being bailed out by their lower order.
Afghanistan were brilliant in the shortest format of the game but lacked the same concentration and patience in the fifty-over format. They will be further tested on the same attributes in the longest version of the game. This was apparent in their first test match first test match as well where they faced a heavy defeat of an innings and 262 from India. Although it was the anticipated result, the lack of patience and concentration was on exhibition as their batting unit was dismantled twice in just one day.
The Afghans have picked up Sayed Shirzad and Zahir Khan in their squad and while they could feature in the playing eleven, the focus will be on Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman as far as picking wickets is concerned.
Overall, Afghanistan are a good side on paper, but their strength in recent time has appeared to diminish as we have moved towards the longer version of the game. They have an abundance of players who are flamboyant and can attack the bowlers right from the word go, but surviving and occupying the crease is always the key in test cricket. If they can do that, they will be a hard team to be, especially with the excellent battery of spinners they have and the surface expected to turn very soon.
M Shahzad, Ihsanullah, Asghar Afghan, R Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Ali Khil, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Waqar Salamkheil.
Not only the upcoming match is the second only test for Ireland, but it's also their first overseas white-ball assignment. It's been a while since they played their first and the last test - against Pakistan at Malahide wherein they won many hearts but lost the match by five wickets.
Ireland are coming into this game on the back of a fine win where Andrew Balbirnie continued to build on his fine form as he played a match-defining knock of 68 to push men in green in the driver's seat. Paul Stirling also contributed with a well-made 89 before he was controversially adjudged leg before wicket to a delivery which appeared to be pitching marginally in line and going further away to miss the top of the off-stump.
Just as the case was in the two shorter versions of the game, it will be a trial by spin for the Irish batsmen. Andrew Balbirnie, Paul Stirling, Kevin O' Brien, and George Dockrell did reasonably well in handling Afghanistan's spin-trio, but they were found wanting against the spinners more often than not. They showed massive improvement in the way they dealt with the spinners and it will be interesting to see how they deal with them in the longest format of the game.
Bowling-wise, the Irish side appears to be a pretty well-settled unit. Dehradun has received a fair share of downpour in the last two days and there should be something for the quick bowlers at least for the first couple of mornings. Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh, and Andy McBrine troubled almost all Afghan batsmen with their pace and movement, at least in the first few overs. The red cherry moves better and for a longer period as compared to the white-ball and that is something the Irish side will be looking to exploit. They certainly appear to be a little light on spin talent with George Dockrell being their only reliable option. Having said that, if their other bowlers are able to do bowl as they did in the ODIs, Afghanistan batsmen will have their work cut-out.
WTS Porterfield, PR Stirling, Andy Balbirnie, Kevin O'Brien, SR Thompson, George Dockrell, Stuart Poynter, Andy McBrine, James Cameron, James McCollum, TJ Murtagh.
The surface is likely to turn very early and will break as the match goes on. Facing spinners on this surface will get increasingly difficult with surface likely to offer square turn along with inconsistent bounce. Winning the toss and batting first will be the way to go here.
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The surface is expected to offer turn very early in the game and will get difficult to bat on with every passing over. Having said that, the surface will have something in it for the quick bowlers, at least in the first session of the game owing to cool weather and moisture in the air. Unless rain plays spoilsport which is unlikely to be the case, the match isn't expected to last beyond four days. The team batting first will be looking to put at least 350 runs on the board.
Afghanistan were dominant in the shortest format of the game, winning the series 3-0, but Ireland did much better in the longer format as they drew level with an assuring win in the fifth ODI. Irish players struggled to acclimatize to Indian conditions early on in the tournament but looked more and more comfortable with every passing match. While Afghanistan have an excellent battery of spin, they clearly do not have a lethal pace attack. Ireland, on the other hand, have a better-balanced bowling attack with a good amalgamation of quick and slower bowlers, but might miss a reliable second spinner in these conditions. Ireland have been playing first-class cricket longer than Afghanistan have and have plenty of experience behind them which could be crucial here. Considering experience, balance, and momentum, Ireland have the edge and are more likely to emerge on top and score their first ever test win in this historical test.
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