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Afg

All-round Afghanistan trump Ireland to register another series win

Afg v Ire, 2nd T20I, report

Afghanistan batsmen put on a collective effort first up, before Mujeeb Ur Rahman dented Ireland's chase with three wickets to help his team to a 21-run win in the second of the three T20Is.

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This was Afghanistan's 12th straight win against Ireland and their fourth bilateral series triumph in as many attempts. Overall, it was their sixth bilateral series win on the trot, the second most behind Pakistan, who had won nine between September 2016 and June 2018.

Openers Hazratullah Zazai (28) and Rahmanuallah Gurbaz (35) put on a half-century stand for the first wicket, though in contrast to the first game two days ago the partnership was rather sedate. Gareth Delany ended Zazai's struggle in the ninth over, with a stunning take of his own bowling, before Gurbaz was caught short of his crease after a terrible mix-up with skipper Asghar Afghan.

Afghan (49 off 28) was not perturbed however, and he marched on to score some quick runs as did all-rounder Mohammad Nabi (27 off 17), with the pair adding 74 runs for the third wicket in just five overs. Both fell in quick succession, but Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib took 26 off Joshua Little in the last over of the innings, to help Afghanistan finish at 184/4.

In reply, Ireland openers Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien did show some early intent, but both fell to Mujeeb within the space of two overs. Delany followed suit, smashing a long-hop off Gulbadin straight to Rashid Khan at long-on. Skipper Andy Balbirnie however kept Ireland in the hunt with a patient 45, Harry Tector providing fine support. However, the former's wicket in the 13th over slowed the progress and the mounting pressure got to Tector who, in a bid for quick runs, dragged one onto his stumps to become Mujeeb's third victim.

Ireland needed 49 off the last three overs and it was too much to ask from the lower-order up against the quality of Rashid Khan and Shapoor Zadran. Afghanistan took the game by 21 runs and with it, an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

The third and final T20I will be played at the same venue on Tuesday 10 March.

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