Ireland has not had the better of recent battles against Afghanistan, and will have a tough task in the first match of the five-game series
Against Ireland’s best attempts, Afghanistan came up with one top-notch performance after another to clinch the Twenty20 International series, sweeping to a 3-0 win.
Now, the action moves to the 50-over format at Greater Noida Sports Complex, and Afghanistan will need to shake off potential complacency and focus on a team that works relatively better at one-day games.
Come Wednesday (March 15), Afghanistan will line up against Ireland at its “home” ground for the first of five One-Day Internationals with the hope of keeping its winning trend going.
Afghanistan, which extended its record-winning streak in T20Is to 11 following the whitewash-ensuring win in the final T20I against Ireland, has run into an Ireland side that doesn’t look quite sure of its approach at moment.
Credit, however, must be given to Afghanistan for capitalising on the opponent’s lack of assertiveness. Asghar Stanikzai’s men went for the kill whenever the opportunity presented itself, not because they could but because they don’t know another way.
This aggressive mindset is turning Afghanistan into a formidable force, and not just in Associate circles. Of course, it will need more than just skill and will to outdo most full-time members, but it is clearly the leader among fellow Associates, and that’s what Ireland is up against.
William Porterfield’s side possesses a decent batting unit, an appreciable spin segment and a sprightly pace force. Above all, it has a great mix of experience and youth, but it has not been able to combine these forces and put it past Afghanistan, at least so far.
In fact, Ireland’s most rounded performance came in the final game of the T20I series where it raced away in pursuit of Afghanistan’s 234, only to fall short by 28 runs.
That said, Afghanistan isn’t too different from Ireland in the skills it possesses, but unlike in the case of Ireland, it has managed to bring it together at crucial junctures. Also, momentum has been with Afghanistan for some time now. It came into this series after putting Zimbabwe away 3-2 and before that it gave Bangladesh a run for its money in a 2-1 series loss.
Ireland hasn’t played as many games as Afghanistan over the last year and hasn’t won as much either, but it certainly isn’t a pushover. If anything, it will come out harder and look to topple the Afghanistan bandwagon.
The last time these sides met was in Ireland, and the result was a 2-2 draw after rain washed out the first game. Afghanistan will view this as its chance to add another feather to its cap. On the other hand, Ireland will hope a win here can help its people forget about the loss against the same opponent in the final of the Desert T20 Challenge.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Gulbadin Naib, Najibullah Zadran, Fareed Ahmad, Ihsanullah Janat, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Dawlat Zadran, Karim Janat, Aftab Alam.
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Gary Wilson (wk), Niall O’Brien, Kevin O’Brien, Ed Joyce, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Jacob Mulder, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young.
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