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|Mujib Ur Rahman||3.0||0||14||2||4.67|
There has been a very healthy rivalry between Ireland and Afghanistan over the last few years. The Irish had a head start and access to some excellent facilities in England but the speed of Afghanistan cricket’s improvement has been incredible.
As things stand right now, Afghanistan has to be favorites for every match that it plays against Ireland, irrespective of the venue. The two teams are going to be building to the World T20 Qualifiers in 2019 and the World T20 itself in 2020.
It is fair to say that Ireland has a lot left to improve in the shortest format of the game while Afghanistan is going to want to build on its strengths as well.
Out of the three different formats of the game, T20 cricket is the one where Ireland has fallen behind the most. It is quite surprising that Ireland is having such a tough time with T20 cricket because a lot of its players play in the English County system and take part in some very high-quality T20 cricket.
As things stand, Ireland needs to find some youngsters in its system to come and rejuvenate the team.
It is not going to be easy for Ireland to compete against Afghanistan even in conditions that are familiar to it. In 2018 Ireland has played two T20’s against India and lost both, two against the Netherlands and lost both, two against Scotland and won one.
Irelands has also not been able to overcome its traditional weakness against spin. Andrew Balbirnie, Paul Stirling, and Gary Wilson will be the players that the home side will bank on for some runs. James Shannon made an impressive fifty against India in one of the matches but we are still not convinced about him.
Ireland is a weak batting team and its fate may rise and sink with that of Paul Stirling. A naturally aggressive batsman, Stirling has had a good season in the Vitality Blast with Middlesex and should be in the right frame of mind to take on Afghanistan.
As far as the bowling goes, Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, and Stuart Thompson will be the bowlers leading the charge. Ireland has to hope that its bowlers will be able to stop Afghanistan from getting too many runs to have any chance in this series.
PR Stirling, SR Thompson, WTS Porterfield, Andy Balbirnie, Simi Singh, GC Wilson, Kevin O'Brien, George Dockrell, Tyrone Kane, Joshua Little, Peter Chase.
There is just something about the Afghan players that makes them ideally suited for T20 cricket. Their batsmen are not shy of having a go, their bowlers bowl spin that is very difficult to pick, and their fast bowlers are decently fast.
Afghanistan in the 8th ranked side in the world, just below the West Indies, and above Bangladesh. To say that Afghanistan is expected to win this series and perhaps even clean sweep it is not an overstatement.
In 2018, Afghanistan has played five T20 matches, two against Zimbabwe and three against Bangladesh, and won all of them.
Speaking of the Afghanistan team’s strengths, it's bowling immediately comes to mind. Rashid Khan has been playing the Vitality Blast in England and is in terrific form. Mujeeb Ur Rahman has also been playing the same tournament and while his returns have not been as good, the experience of playing in English conditions will be invaluable.
These two, and Mohammad Nabi are three seasoned T20 players that will come at the Ireland batsmen hard. Nabi is also very capable of contributing with the bat and adds to the strength of the Afghanistan batting depth.
Mohammad Shahzad, Usman Ghani, and Samiullah Shenwari will lead the batting assault for Afghanistan although there are some other capable players in the side as well. Afghanistan’s batting has been its Achilles heel in previous tours abroad and they must try to get some consistency in that discipline as well.
We think the Afghans would have enough experience to be confident of beating Ireland every single time they come up against them in this series.
M Shahzad, Usman Ghani, Hazratullah Zazai, MA Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, N Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Aftab Alam, Farid Malik.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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Some rain has been forecast on match day before an improvement in the weather. The pitch in the Bready Stadium should have a decent batting pitch for both teams. The surface is expected to be a little slow and offer some help to the spinners. Swing with the new ball can also be expected if the weather remains overcast.
Afghanistan is the firm favorite in this match and we think they will win quite comprehensively. In fact, an early bet on a 3-0 result in favor of Afghanistan may not be a bad idea either.
Back Afghanistan to win.