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|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||20||1||5.00|
The marquee ICC event, ICC World Cup 2019, is well within the sights and the teams are striving hard to get their combinations right for the important tournament. Afghanistan's preparation for the competition are set to begin at Dehradun where they'll be tested by dangerous Irish side who are coming off a couple of T20 wins in Oman. The tour will consist of three T20Is, five One-Day Internationals and the lone test beginning with the T20s - first of which is to be played on 21st of this month. Historically, the Afghans have had better of the Irish team, but past results aren't always the accurate indicators of things to come. Both the teams are evenly matched on paper and we expect a thrilling contest between the two sides.
Afghanistan last played an international game back in September last year where they punched above their weight and left a huge mark by hammering Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in consecutive matches. Although the match is being played at a neutral venue geographically, Afghanistan - having played all their cricket at Dehradun, have all the advantages of a home side.
With the likes of Hazratullah Zazai, Samilullah Shenwari, Asghar Afghan, and Usman Ghani available at the top, their batting lineup looks strong on paper. However, it not their batting which has won them games and recognition. It is the spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman who have impressed one and all troubled even the best in the business.
Asghar Afghan has done particularly well as a skipper, but his batting form could be a cause of concern for the hosts. Additionally, the hosts have dropped Mohammad Shahzad for the shortest format and lack a bit of experience at the top. All in all, although Afghanistan bat deep with the likes of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan more than capable to hit big hits, their bowling will govern their fate in the upcoming fixture.
Asghar Afghan, Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah, N Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karim Janat, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Farid Malik.
Ireland are coming into the series with a reasonable set of performances in their recent matches. In the recently concluded T20I quadrangular series, Ireland happened to be the third best side, but they were behind Scotland and Netherlands only on run-rate.
They started the tournament off in a flying fashion by beating Oman but then succumbed to pressure against Scotland. They then registered a much-needed win against the Netherlands as they came from behind with Stuart Poynter scoring essential six required off the last delivery of the match.
Although the absence of Gary Wilson was felt in the batting order, Paul Stirling did particularly well with the skipper's hat. Promotion of Kevin O' Brien worked well for them as the swashbuckling all-rounder utilized the field restrictions to score quickly up front. Overall, this Irish side is packed with talent and ability in all departments of the game, they lack experience in the middle order which so often plays a key role in driving the game. They'd need their top order to bat longer and assist their middle-order and if they can do that, they're surely going to give Afghanistan a run for their money.
PR Stirling, Andy Balbirnie, Shane Getkate, Simi Singh, Kevin O'Brien, Stuart Poynter, George Dockrell, Joshua Little, WB Rankin, Peter Chase, SR Thompson.
Even though the two teams do not play at the highest level as often as other full-members, lack of familiarity with each other will not be a concern here. The two teams have played a lot against each other in recent years and will have a game plan ready for key players. The teams are well-matched on paper and execution on the field coupled with handling the nervy moments will matter the most. Having the experience of playing in Afghanistan Premier League and across the globe is likely to play to Afghanistan's advantage and they certainly are better placed to emerge on top in the opening encounter of the series.
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