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|Mark Richard Adair||8||13||1||0||61.54|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||5.0||1||27||0||5.40|
|Noor Ali Zadran||5||10||1||0||50.00|
|Mark Richard Adair||10.0||1||71||3||7.10|
Afghanistan's world cup preparations were dealt with a huge dent on Sunday in their first ODI against Ireland where they succumbed to a 72-run defeat while chasing a modest total. With the ICC event under a couple of weeks away, it certainly was a wake-up call that Afghanistan really needed. Ireland, on the other hand, finally found some success after having a dismal campaign against Bangladesh and West Indies. The two teams are now to set to face each other off on Monday in an important match in the context of the series. Afghanistan will be looking to level the series with a win in the upcoming fixture whereas the home side will be keen to wrap up the series and announce their supremacy over Afghanistan at least in home conditions.
The Irish side would have been ecstatic to finally find success after facing a few heavy defeats at the hands of West Indies and Bangladesh. While the defeat would have boosted their confidence and morale tremendously, they still have plenty of areas to improve on going into the second match of the series.
It was their bowling which was majorly responsible for setting up their massive victory in the first encounter. Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh, and Mark Adair were brilliant with the ball in their defense of 210 as they all bowled in tight channels and hardly gave anything away. Mark Adair and Boyd Rankin were the picks of their bowlers as they picked up seven wickets combined with the former picking up four and the latter contributing with three key wickets.
Batting will be an area where the home team will be looking to improve. They are acquainted with playing in these conditions and that coupled with a not-so-prominent pace bowling attack of Afghanistan should allow their batsmen some breathing space. William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, and Kevin O'Brien batted well and negotiated the critical period as Ireland somehow managed to put on a respectable total in the first match. They will be expected to do that again and the responsibility will also lie on the shoulders of Andrew Balbirnie who has arguably been Ireland's best batsmen in recent times.
PR Stirling, James McCollum, Andy Balbirnie, WTS Porterfield, Kevin O'Brien, GC Wilson, Mark Richard Adair, Barry McCarthy, Andy McBrine, TJ Murtagh, WB Rankin.
Quite contrary to the expected, Afghanistan included Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi in their playing eleven, but they too could not provide any substantial contribution with either ball or bat.
Their vulnerability of playing good fast bowling under overcast conditions was highlighted by the Irish bowlers which is something they'd have to work on before the World Cup begins. Barring Mohammad Nabi and their former skipper, Asghar Afghan, none of their batsmen looked comfortable against the tall and quick Irish bowlers and were completely dismantled for a total of 138 runs.
Afghanistan's over-reliance on their spinners was also embossed in the last match with conditions hardly supporting the spinners. Rashid Khan still proved to be a good prospect but was nowhere close to what he usually is in favorable conditions. Dawlat Zadran and Aftab Alam did well with the ball as they picked up three wickets each and played a vital role in bundling the home team out for just 210.
All in all, the Afghanistan side look good on paper, but the experience of playing in these conditions could once again play an instrumental role. They'd have to adapt to the conditions quickly, especially their batsmen, and if they can do that, they will not be as easy to defeat as they were in the first match.
M Shahzad, N Zadran, R Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, NA Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
The two sides have developed a fine rivalry between them with plenty of close matches being played between them over the past few years. The first ODI resulted in a rather anticlimactic finish with Afghanistan failing to live up to the expectations. Despite that, we do not really expect them to make any changes to their playing eleven. Ireland did well in the first match and with conditions likely to become better for batsmen, their spinners are likely to come into the picture. Ireland have been playing in these conditions for a while now and should be perfectly equipped to handle the conditions. They'll have the momentum after winning the first match and for that as well as the aforementioned reasons, they are once again the favorites to win the upcoming encounter.
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