Ireland will be keen to gain some momentum and add to their ICC Cricket World Cup Super League points tally when they face an in-form Afghanistan side in the third and final ODI of their head-to-head series.
Afghanistan v Ireland, 3rd ODI
Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi
Tuesday, 26 January, 10.00am local time, 06.00am GMT
The Afghans have enjoyed a flying start to their quest to reach the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2023, downing Ireland twice in ODIs over the past week and blowing off any potential cobwebs formed since their last competitive match 10 months ago. With a 100 per cent record so far after two games, Afghanistan sit 10 points above Ireland who are chasing a second win in the CWC Super League.
The Super League is of key significance to both sides with it offering an automatic pathway to qualification for the CWC World Cup in two years, and with Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka all yet to begin their respective campaigns, the opportunity to put points on the board will help to build pressure on those sides.
With both sides having played twice at the same venue already, they know the impact a turning wicket will have on the result.
Remember the last time:
Winning the toss and putting themselves in to bat first, Ireland hoped to create a solid foundation for their bowling attack to build upon and were thankful for opener Paul Stirling who led the charge with a fantastic knock of 128 from 132 balls. A stand of 106 alongside Curtis Campher (47) for the fourth wicket built on a shaky start, but the middle and lower order struggled to make a big enough contribution as they ended the innings on 259/9.
The target was knocked off with 28 balls to spare by Afghanistan, who lost just the three wickets in the process. Rahmat Shah (103*) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (82) put in the hard yards, building a third-wicket partnership of 184 and giving the Irish bowling attack not a moment's rest.
What they said:
Andrew Balbirnie (Ireland captain): “At the halfway stage we were in the game, but would have liked a few more having batted so well – particularly Paul again playing so beautifully to set us up. We probably lost a bit of momentum there at the back end. With 260 we felt in the game, but we didn’t have enough on a pitch that played a bit slower and deader as the day went on."
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