About the Match
Ireland managed to break through and keep the series alive 2-1 as they won the 3rd ODI against Afghanistan by 6 wickets; the two teams will face each other on 22nd March at Greater Noida for the 4th ODI. While Afghanistan is on the cusp of a series win, and will be determined to win this match, Ireland which lost the T20 series, will now be eager to keep the winning momentum going. Both sides have done well with bat and ball; and they will leave no stone unturned to dominate the other on Wednesday.
The top-order couldn’t come out all guns blazing in the 3rd ODI but thanks to well-made half-centuries by bowlers Gulbadin Naib, Shafiqullah and Rashid Khan, Afghanistan could muster 264 runs batting first. Speedster Dawlat Zadran provided two important breakthroughs with the wickets of Porterfield and Ed Joyce while Nabi and Shenwari took a wicket each; however, the others couldn’t stop Stirling and Balbirnie from hitting the winning runs and they lost the match by 6 wickets.
In the 2nd ODI, Asghar Stanikzai led from the front as he posted 101 off 90, and along with good contributions by Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Shahzad and Shafiqullah, they posted a target of 339 against the Irish. Spinner Rashid Khan then took 6 wickets to demolish the opponent’s chase; with help from speedster Dawlat Zadran, who claimed 3-52, and Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan successfully defended the score and won the match by 34 runs.
Overall, the batting line-up is quite deep with players like Stanikzai, Shahzad, Shenwari and others down the line like Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan being able to keep the scoreboard ticking. The strong combination of pace and spin could help them make a comeback here and win the series.
Speedsters Chase and Murtagh toppled the Afghani top-order by taking 2 wickets each in the last match, thereby restricting them to 264. Spinners Andy McBrine and Dockrell dismissed one opponent each while Thompson caused a run-out to stifle the high-flying Afghanistan side. Chasing 265, Paul Stirling smashed 99 runs to lead the charge in keeping their hopes alive while Balbirnie supported well by scoring 85 runs. They kept the runs flowing and won the match to keep the series alive.
In the previous match, chasing 339 runs, Stirling made a stellar performance by scoring 95 off 80 while Porterfield, Joyce and Thomspon fought hard to get the big shots. However, they couldn’t make steady partnerships in the slog overs and were all-out by the 48th over. Stirling’s all-round performance has been commendable as he had earlier taken 6-55 in the first innings; he is a strong asset for the team and can help the team win again with his batting and bowling skills.
Spinner Dockrell and speedsters like Murtagh and Chase could try to outwit Afghanistan once again, and if they build a solid foundation while chasing a target or setting one, Ireland could save the series here with a win.
The series tilts towards Afghanistan 2-1 and they have the upper hand here in psychological terms; however, Ireland comes here at the back of an emphatic win and could prove to be a tough nut to crack. The contest could go down to the wire but we think that Ireland is better placed to win and take the battle to the last decider game.