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Afghanistan put in a record-breaking performance against Ireland in the second T20 of Ireland’s tour of Afghanistan 2019. They scored the highest total ever recorded in a T20 international and registered a very heavy defeat to continue their impressive record against Ireland.
It is not too many times that a side scores over 190 runs in a T20 international and still ends up losing by 84 runs but that is exactly what happened to Ireland. They were set a target that was nearly impossible to chase and could not come close even after the best efforts of their skipper.
Another 3-0 scoreline looms for Ireland against Afghanistan. Is there any way that Ireland can prevent Afghanistan from stomping all over them once again?
Hazratullah Zazai had made headlines when he hit six sixes in one over in the Afghanistan Premier League. There was no doubt about his six-hitting prowess but Afghanistan would have been waiting to see a demonstration at the international level. Now, with the ICC World Cup 2019 looming just a few months away, Zazai gave a brutal display of his batting abilities to the world.
He smashed 16 sixes and remained not out on 162 from just 62 deliveries. That is video game level batting and will attract the attention of the cricket playing world on him.
We have no doubt now that Hazratullah Zazai is going to be a part of the Afghanistan squad for the ICC World Cup 2019.
He and Usman Ghani put on 236 for the opening wicket before Ghani was out for 73.
It was a surprise to see Usman Ghani being promoted to open the batting after Aghar Afghan was given an opportunity in the last match. It is clear now that Afghanistan is moving on from Mohammad Shahzad and is looking for young blood to fill his shoes.
Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, and the others give Afghanistan plenty of batting firepower. Most of the batsmen are in good form too and are going to be difficult to stop.
Afghanistan also continued its policy of splitting up its three spinners. Mujeeb Ur Rahman is given the responsibility of bowling in the powerplay, Mohammad Nabi bowls during the middle overs, and Rashid Khan comes into bowl during the death.
This ensures that one quality bowler is on the attack at all times. It also takes into account the individual strengths of the three spinners. Until and unless Ireland can do something spectacular to put the Afghans off their plans, we don’t this pattern is going to change.
There are gaps in the bowling and the remaining 10 overs are always going to be crucial but the confidence with which Afghanistan is playing right now makes up for a lot of the shortcomings.
Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Shafiqullah, Mohammad Nabi, N Zadran, Asghar Afghan, Rashid Khan, N Tarakai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Sayed Shirzad, Zia-ur-Rehman.
A defeat of the nature which Ireland suffered in the second ODI has to be confidence sapping. 8 bowlers were used by Paul Stirling in an effort to stem the flow of runs and buy some wickets. None of it worked and only Boy Rankin was able to keep his economy rate at less than 10 runs an over.
It was a bowling performance of the worst kind as Ireland did not have any answers to the Afghan onslaught.
The more we see this Ireland side play cricket, the more we are convinced that they have regressed dramatically. Scotland or even the Netherlands are going to be more competitive than Ireland on a daily basis.
There is just no world-class player other than Paul Stirling in this side. Even calling Stirling a world-class player might be a stretch, although he is definitely leaps and bounds above everyone else in the Irish side.
Stirling scored 91, Kevin O’Brien scored a laborious 37 and no one else did anything of note. This is the response of a side that is chasing nearly 300 runs in a T20 international. We just can't see where the runs are coming from on a consistent basis.
There is just no other player apart from Stirling that has the capability score big fifties or hundreds in T20 cricket.
The bowling is also pretty one dimensional. The fat bowlers do not have the pace to score the batsmen and the spinners don’t have any mystery about them. They are being lineup by the Afghanistan batsmen who know exactly what is coming down at them next.
There is not one single bowler in the Ireland side at the moment who the Afghanistan batsmen would be worried about. Boyd Rankin is the best bowler on show and even he has not been consistent enough to find the blockhole or try some slower deliveries to try and change the rhythm of the game.
Ireland will have to hope for a miracle or a complete Afghanistan collapse to try and break this losing streak that they are on against Afghanistan.
PR Stirling, Kevin O'Brien, Andy Balbirnie, Shane Getkate, Simi Singh, Stuart Poynter, George Dockrell, SR Thompson, Joshua Little, WB Rankin, Peter Chase.
The side winning the toss is likely to want to bat first
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The third T20 match between Afghanistan and Ireland is going to be played at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. There is some rain expected on match day but nothing that should stick around for a long time. We may lose some overs but should definitely be able to get a complete game in.
The pitch is good for batting and both teams showed that in the last match. There will be no difference in the pitch over a period of less than 24 hours. If anything, it may be a bit slower than it was and help the spinners even more.
We don’t see any way where Ireland can consistently better Afghanistan. For the Irish to win, a whole host of things have to go right with their team and go wrong with Afghanistan. Ireland can win but it is highly unlikely to happen. This is why we recommend sticking with the favorite in this match.
Back Afghanistan to win.
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