William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, rued the batting errors that led to a 109-run defeat against Afghanistan in the fourth one-day international but remained optimistic ahead of the final game.
Ireland seized the early advantage in Dehradun. Electing to field first, they had reduced Afghanistan to 81/6 within the first 20 overs, before Mohammad Nabi, Asghar Afghan and Rashid Khan pushed the total past 220 with vital half-centuries.
That swung the momentum in Afghanistan's favour, and the visitors could never really make a comeback thereafter. They struggled with the bat through the chase and a dearth of meaningful partnerships meant Ireland crumbled for 114.
Afghanistan take a 2-1 series lead!— ICC (@ICC) March 8, 2019
Aftab Alam's 4/25 and two wickets each for Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman cause Ireland to crumble to 114 all out - Afghanistan win by 109 runs in the 4th ODI!#AFGvIRE scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/kR79PwjajJ pic.twitter.com/rQkdRRVGsT
“Coming into the game, we were happy where we were at. But today, quite a few individual errors cost us with the bat in that chase," said Porterfield after the game on Friday, 8 March. "If we can negate a few of those, then we put ourselves in a decent position to come home strong.
“I'm sure on another day, a few of those that crept past the edge, they would have been bowled out for a lot less. They’ve got a deep batting line-up, and it would have been nice to have gotten them out for a few less. I'm not overly concerned [about] how we approached with the ball, it was more how we handled it with the bat.”
We've lost one and bounced back, we've now just got to bounce back again
The fifth and final ODI will be held in Dehradun on 10 March, with just a one-day break between the two fixtures. Ireland still have a very real chance of taking something out of the tour by winning this game and consequently levelling the series 2-2.
“While there is not a lot you can do in one day, you can go in the nets and get yourself feeling good," Porterfield pointed out. "We've just got to approach the game like we have done every other game in the series. We've lost one and bounced back, we've now just got to bounce back again. If we can negate a few individual errors over the 100 overs, then we're not far off.”
Rashid Khan, the Afghanistan all-rounder, was the lynchpin of their spirited fightback in the game. He notched up a 58-ball 52 with the bat, returned 2/22 in his six-over spell, and also acted as the stand-in captain in the absence of Asghar Afghan, who was retracted after sustaining a shoulder injury in the first innings.
"I am always trying my best in the batting department," insisted Rashid, who was adjudged Player of the Match. "Today, I did it for the team, they needed me. I try to deliver my best. Got a fifty at a crucial time, when the team needed it.
"You need to keep yourself fresh, you need to enjoy your fielding, batting and bowling. That's what I am doing from the last three years. I believe in my skills and enjoy the game. Hopefully, need to do the best things and grab the opportunity in the next match too."
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