Ireland's defeat against Afghanistan on Friday, 6 March was their 11th consecutive loss to the sub-continent side. They need to break the streak and win their next clash on Sunday to keep the series alive.
Afghanistan v Ireland, 2nd T20I
Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground, Greater Noida
Sunday, 08 March; 02.00pm local, 08.30am GMT
Ireland showed sparks of brilliance in the first T20I, both with bat and ball, but allowed their opponents back in at crucial junctures. Their bowlers continued to struggle, like they did in West Indies earlier this year, with all-rounder Simi Singh being the only notable contributor with a return of 2/18 from his three overs. Boyd Rankin and George Dockrell were taken to the cleaners, and their form must be worrying captain Andy Balbirnie.
With the bat, the top three of Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien, and Balbirne himself got Ireland off to a decent start. The young Harry Tector also impressed with a useful cameo at the end.
As for Afghanistan, their over-reliance on Rashid Khan, the top-ranked bowler in MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings once again came to the fore on Friday. Young Karim Janat did bowl with discipline, but Asghar Afghan, their captain, will hope the rest of the attack can support Rashid more.
Another win would mark their sixth series triumph in a row, and that would put them behind Pakistan and India, who lead the count win 11 and seven wins respectively.
Remember the last time
Stirling and O'Brien got Ireland off to a flier, adding 63 in the first six overs. O'Brien departed for 35 but Stirling raced to his 18th T20I fifty, with some good support from skipper Balbirnie (29). There were quick wickets in the second half of their innings, with Rashid (3/22) being the wrecker-in-chief, but Tector's unbeaten 17-ball 29 propelled them to 172/6 at the end of 20 overs.
In reply, Hazratullah Zazai (23 off 15) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28 off 13) came out all guns blazing for Afghanistan. However, a mini-implosion reduced them to 70/4, before Najibullah Naib struck an unbeaten 42 off 21, adding 63 runs with Samiullan Shinwari (28) to put them back in hunt. The latter was dismissed on the last ball of the 15th, and rain then intervened. At 133/5 at that point, Afghanistan were 11 ahead on the DLS method, and emerged victorious.
The weather on Sunday is largely expected to be clear with minimal chances of rain. The pitch is expected to be conducive for batting, as it was in the series opener, and in the three games played here previously.
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