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|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||17||3||4.25|
Afghanistan started their tour of Ireland in a dominant fashion and won the T20 pretty comfortably in the end. There were a few positive signs for Ireland as well and they would be hoping to build on those in this series as well. Afghanistan has now won its last six T20 internationals against Ireland and will be very confident of adding another two victories to its name, weather permitting.
For Ireland, the stated goal of this series has been to recognize young talent and build up to the World T20 Qualifiers next year. A win here will help keep the series alive and give them a massive confidence boost as well.
Choosing to bowl after winning the toss, Ireland would have been hoping to get some assistance from the wicket but there was surprisingly little movement on offer. As a result, Mohammad Shahzad, and 20-year-old Hazratullah Zazai were able to really lay into the Irish bowlers.
Kane and Chase, tasked with taking the new ball, could not find their lengths and went for plenty of runs. Ireland would have been disappointed with their tactics because they did not attack Afghanistan’s weaker discipline hard enough.
A start of 87 runs in 7.2 overs basically took the game away from them. Joshua Little and Simi Singh brought back things admirably and kept Afghanistan to a somewhat reasonable total. Little was very impressive in his spell, managing to get the right lines and bowling at a decent clip.
He and Simi Singh will be Ireland’s mainstay bowlers in this series and building ahead to the future.
Unfortunately for Ireland, though, was that even after pulling Afghanistan back, their batting never really got going. They struggled against Mujeeb in the powerplay and fell behind the asking run-rate almost immediately.
Paul Stirling got a start and just when it looked that he would be able to give Afghanistan a fight, he was caught brilliantly on the boundary.
Ireland’s dependence on just a few batsmen is a big weak spot. Stirling is not known for his consistency at the best of times and there have to be other players that can take up the slack. These are not easy problems to solve, though, and Ireland may not find an answer in this series.
PR Stirling, SR Thompson, WTS Porterfield, Kevin O'Brien, GC Wilson, Andy Balbirnie, Simi Singh, Joshua Little, George Dockrell, Peter Chase, WB Rankin.
There is plenty of talent coming up in Afghanistan and that is a very promising sign for their future. Hazratullah Zazai will be the latest youngster added to the list of these players after his brilliant batting performance against Ireland.
A clean striker of the ball, Zazai took full toll of the loose deliveries and ensured that Afghanistan got off to a flier. In fact, he himself had score 74 out of the 87 runs Afghanistan scored in the first seven overs and could easily have got a century.
Afghanistan has a very strong bowling side but is still on the lookout for some good batting talent. If Zazai can show a measure of consistency in his run-scoring then Afghanistan may have unearthed a gem. There would be some concern in the camp over the form of Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, and Samiullah Shenwari.
They are experienced batsmen that form the engine of this Afghanistan team. The manner in which they failed to capitalize on a good start and let Ireland back into the game would have left them disappointed.
Not much can faulted with Afghanistan’s bowling effort. The spin trio of Mujeb, Nabi, and Rashid was well and truly on top of the Irish batsmen. They can expect more reward in the series going forward because facing this kind of spin is not something that can be learned overnight.
Fareed Ahmed and Aftab Alam also had a decent outing, although, they would want a little more consistency in their game as they develop.
M Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, MA Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, N Zadran, Shafiqullah, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Aftab Alam, Fareed Ahmad.
The team winning the toss is expected to bat first
Rain caused an hour’s delay and a reduction of overs in the first game and the same can be expected for the second game. Some rain has been forecast on match day although the weather is expected to clear up in the afternoon.
The pitch was a little slow and conducive to the spinners. The batsmen were able to score freely with the hard new ball but it got difficult later on. Exactly the same with the surface getting a touch slower can be expected.
Afghanistan has a much stronger team in this format and should be able to win again.
Back Afghanistan to win.