Ireland will kick start a full-tour against Afghanistan in India with the first of three Twenty20 Internationals in Dehradun on Thursday, 21 February.
Afghanistan v Ireland
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun
Thursday, 21 February, 6:30pm local time, 1:00pm GMT
A six off the last ball to win their match in Oman was thrilling, but with games against Afghanistan coming up, "it’s one-and-a-half to two times the step up we’ll need", Ireland captain Paul Stirling has said.— ICC (@ICC) February 18, 2019
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Ireland will come into the series in high spirits after their thrilling victory over the Netherlands in their final fixture of the quadrangular series. The visitors will rely on the experience of veteran Kevin O'Brien and skipper Paul Stirling, their leading run-scorers in the series.
Stuart Thompson, who claimed match-winning figures of 4/18 against the Netherlands, will be the spearhead of their pace attack. Contributions from slower bowlers like Simi Singh and George Dockrell will be crucial in the spin-friendly conditions in India.
Afghanistan have a winning record in Dehradun, their adopted home. They were impressive against Bangladesh in the T20I series last year, which they swept 3-0. Their positive record against Ireland – nine wins in 12 T20Is – will also give them confidence.
Afghanistan's world-class spin bowling arsenal, led by Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahmann, will get assistance from the surface. The trio picked up 14 wickets between them in Dehradun in the series against Bangladesh.
In the absence of the rested Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai will be the main aggressor in the batting unit. The hosts will also rely on skipper Asghar Afghan's experience with the willow.
Rashid Khan: Khan, numero uno on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Player Rankings for bowling, is a bonafide match-winner in the shortest format of the game. He claimed eight wickets in three games against Bangladesh in Dehradun and was adjudged the Player of the Series. He is also a handy option with the bat in the lower order.
Kevin O'Brien: With 130 runs in three innings, O'Brien was the second highest run-scorer in the quadrangular series. He boasts of 905 runs and 58 wickets for Ireland in T20I cricket and is No.10 on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Player Rankings for all-rounders.
The weather forecast for Dehradun is for patchy rains, which might bring the DLS system into play. The average first-innings score at this venue is 146, which shows that it is not a batting paradise. Slower bowlers are likely to thrive on the surface.
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (c), Shafiqullah Shafiq (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Karim Janat, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan, Ziaur Rahman, Sayed Shirzad, Farid Malik, Najeeb Tarakai, Usman Ghani
Ireland: Paul Stirling (c), Stuart Poynter (wk), Stuart Thompson, James Shannon, Andrew Balbirnie, Harry Tector, Kevin O Brien, Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Peter Chase, Shane Getkate, Joshua Little, Andy McBrine, Lorcan Tucker
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