About the Match
Greater Noida Sports Complex will host its first ever International game as Afghanistan host Ireland in the first T20 game of the 3-match series. It's an interesting prospect for Afghanistan and Ireland to play in a cricketing frenzy nation. Both Afghanistan and Ireland have a large fan base in India which could attract good footfall in the opening game of the series. Afghanistan has gained a lot of ground in recent past and will be wary of Ireland, the team which has caused many upsets in the past. One of the two sides could get a Test Status by 2019 and this series could be the best times for the two sides to show their strength. It's the first time that these two teams are meeting in a Bilateral series and both the teams would love to make their mark. With both teams in fine form, the first T20 is expected to be a cracker of a game.
As far as the numbers go, Afghanistan are just ahead of the Irishmen having won four out of seven encounters between the two teams.
The Afghans have recently posted a series win against Zimbabwe and will be oozing with confidence. Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari and Ashgar Stanikzai form the backbone of the lineup with experienced explosive all-rounder in Mohammad Nabi to follow. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan's spin will be the key against Irish batsmen who can be a little jittery against quality spin bowling.
The Afghans have strong, skilled pacers who can be lethal in the earlier part of the innings. Overall, Afghanistan is a superbly balanced side will excellent mix of batsmen, bowlers ably backed by skilled all-rounders.
Ireland will love to forget their outing when the two teams met last time in a T20 game. They lost both the encounters in the Desert T20 competition.
In their most recent series, against UAE, the Irish team was flawless as they registered two victories in two ODIs. William Porterfield scored a century in the first game and a fifty in the second. Paul Stirling and Andy Balbarnie looked good during the chase. Gary Wilson looked in good touch as well.
Their bowlers did well in both the games with Young and McBrine picking up two wickets. Jacob Mulder was brilliant with the ball as he gave away just 28 runs and picked up two wickets in his quota of 10 overs. Overall, Ireland have the players in form and it would be interesting to see how they do in the alien conditions of Noida.
Uncertainty is the one of the most beautiful aspect of the game which is magnified in its shortest version. The pitch behaviour will be a surprise for both teams, but the Afghans will have the slight advantage of practicing there. Afghanistan have been brilliant in the recent past and with Nabi one of the top all-rounders in T20 cricket, we'd place our money on them.