Opener's century complements left-arm spinner’s four-for as Afghanistan goes down by five wickets in decider.
Paul Stirling's century backed up George Dockrell's four-wicket haul to give Ireland a series-clinching five-wicket victory in the third and final One-Day International against Afghanistan in Sharjah on Sunday (December 10).
Ireland bowled out Afghanistan for just 177 in 48.2 overs with Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, and Barry McCarthy, the paceman who picked up his first five-for in the second match, sharing seven wickets between them. Stirling then guided the chase, slamming 101 off 97 balls as Ireland completed the win in 38 overs. The result meant Ireland came from behind to take the series 2-1.
After opting to bat, Afghanistan got a decent start with Javed Ahmadi (27) and Noor Ali Zadran adding 34 within seven overs. However, both fell in successive overs as Ireland's pacers struck.
Afghanistan struggled for partnerships throughout its innings as the spinners then took over. It seemed primed to kick on from 102 for 3 with Rahmat Shah on 44, but Dockrell struck three crucial blows to trigger a collapse. The left-arm spinner dismissed Shah, Mohammad Nabi and Nasir Jamal in consecutive overs as Afghanistan lose three wickets for the addition of just nine runs.
From 109 for 6, Rashid Khan played a handy knock (44 off 55) to lift Afghanistan past 175, even as McCarthy got rid of the tail.
Ireland lost William Porterfield, its captain, for just four but Stirling and Andy Balbirnie steadied the ship with a 62-run stand for the second wicket. The duo kept scoring at more than five runs an over to set a solid base before a double strike threatened to rock the chase. Balbirnie was stumped off Nabi while Niall O'Brien was leg before to Rashid as Ireland slipped to 96 for 3 in the 22nd over.
However, Stirling thwarted any hopes of a late comeback by Afghanistan. He added 51 for the fourth wicket with Gary Wilson, the latter’s contribution being only 11.
Stirling went past his century and by the time he fell to Rashid, Ireland had all but crossed the line.
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