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|Niall O Brien||1||3||0||0||33.33|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||7.0||1||19||0||2.71|
Ireland struck back in the second ODI and managed to keep the series alive. Ireland and Afghanistan will now face off in a veritable final to decide the series. The hosts were very good with the ball in the last match and that set them up for victory. The end result may have gone Ireland’s way but the victory was still pretty hard fought. Afghanistan would have been disappointed with its performance in the country’s 100th ODI. Their batting once again let them down and even though the bowlers fought till the end, Afghanistan was never ahead in this match.
Both teams will be very keen to win the last match and end the tour on a positive note.
Ireland could not have asked for a better start in the last after losing the toss. Tim Murtagh, fresh from taking four wickets in the opening game, scythed through the top-order and has Afghanistan at 13 for 3. That soon became 16 for 4 as Balbirnie ran out Hashmatullah Shahidi.
Murtagh, Rankin, and Simi Singh were excellent in the last match. Murtagh may have got the most wickets, four again, but the others were equally integral in piling on the pressure on the Afghan batsmen.
Chase was also quite good and bowled a heavy bouncer but went for some runs in the context of the game. Overall, Ireland would be very happy with its frontline pacers. Perhaps, the only criticism would be that the Irish failed to bowl out Afghanistan even after ripping out their top-order in no time.
Chasing down 183 against a bowling attack like the one Afghanistan has got can be tricky. Andrew Balbirnie, though, continued his good form and forged some important partnerships to ensure Ireland did not fall short.
Simi Singh’s contribution of 36 not out and 39 from Paul Stirling at the top of the order were very important contributions as well.
Ireland played exactly the kind of game they needed to play to win. Their bowlers ensured that Afghanistan did not score too many and their batting performed to the best of its ability. Doing this again won’t be easy. It will take something really special for Ireland to be able to beat Afghanistan in two consecutive ODI’s.
WTS Porterfield, PR Stirling, Andy Balbirnie, Niall O Brien, Kevin O'Brien, Simi Singh, GC Wilson, Andy McBrine, TJ Murtagh, WB Rankin, Peter Chase.
Batting troubles came to the fire for Afghanistan in their last match. It was not entirely unexpected but surely the pressure on a senior player like Mohammad Shahzad would be mounting. He has often been the player to get Afghanistan to flying starts but his lack of consistency is becoming a concern. He could be playing for his career in this last game.
The frequent changes to the batting lineup also don’t appear to be helping Afghanistan’s batsmen settle down. We think that Rehmat Shah, Gulabdin Naib, and Mohammad Nabi should form the middle order. These three are probably the best batsmen for Afghanistan right now.
Mohammad Nabi, in particular, is batting too low for our liking. He has been relegated to the bowling all-rounder’s role in the side but surely his experience with the bat is very valuable.
Afghanistan has some good batsmen in its side but they tend to lose their way when a few early wickets fall. At least this time the middle and the lower order fought to put up some sort of a total on the board, something that has not always happened in the past.
The bowling for Afghanistan was good but they seemed to struggle to find a way against the sweep. Both Balbirnie and Simi Singh utilized the horizontal bat shots well.
Mujeeb, Rashid, and Nabi applied pressure on the batsmen and took wickets but the score that they were defending was not large enough this time around. Afghanistan will know that its batting was to blame for this last loss. If they can get 200 or more in the final, their bowling will be tough to get past.
Similarly, if Afghanistan is chasing anything north of 230 then their fans should be worried.
M Shahzad, Ihsanullah, Gulbadin Naib, R Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, N Zadran, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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A humid day with only a 10% chance of showers has been forecast for match day. We think that we should be able to get a full game in without any trouble. The pitch continued to be low, slow, and difficult to score off in the second match. The same can be expected for the third. One of the reasons that the short ball was so effective for Ireland was because it was coming so slowly off the surface.
A score of around 210-220 should be considered par.
Ireland has now won three out of the last five ODI’s between the two sides. Both sides have been vulnerable with the bat and good with the ball. The side that negotiates the other side’s bowling better will win the series. We think it's going to be Afghanistan.
Back Afghanistan to win.