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Afghanistan beat Ireland very comfortably in the second T20 match of the series and now holds an unassailable 2-0 lead. The visitors, though, would be unhappy with anything less than a 3-0 scoreline as they seek to underline the difference between themselves and the other newest Test Match nation.
Ireland would have been very disappointed with its performance in the last match. They were in the match for some time during their bowling but their batting collapsed in a heap once again. Ireland will be playing for pride and trying to end its streak of losses against Afghanistan.
Ireland lost the toss and found itself chasing in the second T20. Its start was excellent as Mohammad Shahzad and Samiullah Shenwari lost their wickets within the first three overs to leave Afghanistan 8 for 2.
It is not uncommon to see an Afghanistan batting collapse, although, they have become rarer in the limited overs formats. Thankfully for the visitors, Hazratullah Zazai continued his excellent form and smashed 82 off just 54 balls with seven sixes and ensured that Afghanistan recovered from its initial hiccups.
Ireland fought back gamely with wickets in the middle and pulled by Afghanistan’s rate of scoring as well. Boyd Rankin was the standout bowler for Afghanistan picking up 2 wickets and giving away just 14 runs in his four overs.
Simi Singh had a good outing as well but the hero of the first match, Joshua Little was carted all around the park.
Eventually, Ireland kept Afghanistan to 160 which was a par total and definitely something that Ireland could have chased down. Ireland, though, suffered a massive batting meltdown and folded for just 79 runs in total.
Willia Porterfield and Gary Wilson were the only two batsmen to reach double figures. The lack of contributions from Stirling, Balbirnie, and Thompson highlights the lack of batting talent in Ireland at the moment.
There are just not enough youngsters pushing for spots in the national side and that is a huge problem. The only way Ireland seems likely to win a match in this series is through an Afghanistan implosion. Maybe one of its bowlers could have an excellent day but that seems unlikely as well.
Playing 11 not yet available.
Two wins in the two matches played so far have ensured that Afghanistan win the series but there were some problems with the performances that the visitors would be keen to address. Mohamad Shahzad at the top of the order has failed in both matches, and the experiment of pushing Shenwari up the order did not come off either.
In fact, had it not been for youngster Hazrutullah Zazai’s performances, Afghanistan may well have struggled to put up decent totals.
As things stand, Afghanistan’s batting continues to be unpredictable and the team would be looking for some contributions from its senior players.
The bowling for Afghanistan, though, has been brilliant. Their attack is far too good for Ireland and can give many a side in world cricket the jitters. Rashid Khan picked up four wickets without breaking a sweat in the last match, Mujeeb has been very good in the powerplay, Nabi has picked up wickets whenever he has got a chance and the two fast bowlers have been impressive as well.
Maybe Afghanistan can look to change a few players and give its bench a run in the final game but that could mean jeopardizing a potential 3-0 scoreline. The hunger for wins shown by Afghanistan suggests that we are not going to see any let up from the visitors in this match either.
Playing 11 not yet available.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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A lot of rain has been forecast for this match and we could have a tough time getting any play in at all. The fans will be hoping that the rain gods relent and we can have the conclusion to this series but a truncated match almost seems certain at this point.
The pitch has been slow and difficult for batsmen after the initial few overs. The rain does not seem to be likely to change the inherent nature of the surface.
Afghanistan is far too good for Ireland in all respects of the game and we have no choice but to recommend backing the favorite once again.
Back Afghanistan to win.
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