About the Match
Ireland made a stellar comeback into the series against Afghanistan after drawing level with them 2-2 by winning the 4th ODI by 3 wickets. Afghanistan had emphatically taken a 2-0 lead initially by winning the first two games but it has been a heroic performance by the Irish all-rounders that has helped them keep the series alive. The two teams will now face off for the 5th and final ODI of the series at Greater Noida on 24th March that will decide the title winner.
The top-order batsmen once again failed to build a good foundation while batting first and they could muster only 220 runs in the last ODI. Asghar Stanikzai, who had scored a brilliant century in the second ODI, couldn’t repeat the performance here and was dismissed at 35. Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Shahzad, who have been in good form throughout, also couldn’t pitch in and it was left to Mohammad Nabi and the lower order players to get to a respectable 220.
Nabi came back with a superb 4-wicket haul giving away just over 3 runs per over while the in-form Rashid Khan contributed with 2 wickets. However, they had too less to fight with and lost the match by 3 wickets with 19 balls remaining. In the previous match also, the bowlers couldn’t defend a total of 264 set by the lower-order batsmen, despite some breakthroughs provided by speedster Dawlat Zadran and others.
They have lost the upper hand by losing two straight games but do have the talent and experience to make a comeback here. The batsmen could pull up their socks and return to avenge the defeat.
All-rounder Kevin O’ Brien showcased his skills as he took 4 wickets and posted an unbeaten 72 off 60 to help chase down 221 runs in the last match and win a second consecutive match to draw level with Afghanistan. Wicket-keeper batsman Gary Wilson also played a useful knock as he scored 41 off 67 while top-order batsmen Stirling, Ed Joyce and Balbirnie pitched in to keep the scoreboard ticking. Young spinner Mulder registered 3-57 while the other spinner Andy McBrine also helped dismiss 2 opponents to restrict Afghanistan at 220.
In the previous do-or-die match, it was a superb performance by Stirling and Balbirnie, who scored 99 and 85 runs respectively, that helped them win and stay in the race. Speedsters Murtagh and Chase had taken 2 wickets each then to restrict Afghanistan at 264 and they add depth to the attack along with others like Dockrell and Thompson.
The Irish are elated now by winning two games back-to-back, and will be motivated now to take the series here. They have many talented all-rounders, who will leave no stone unturned to win again.
The series is tied at 2-2 and the upcoming decider will see a lot of fireworks across the park; while Afghanistan has a blazing bowling attack, Ireland are equally capable of outwitting the opponents with the ball. The contest could swing either way but we feel that the in-form Irish batsmen give their team the edge to win the ODI series on Friday