Hosts Ireland pipped Afghanistan to a three-wicket victory in the second ODI after a brilliant four-wicket haul from Tim Murtagh helped restrict the tourists to 182/9.
VIEW MATCH CENTER
Series honours will now be awarded to the side that prevails in the final ODI on Friday 31 August.
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat, and Murtagh, fresh from a brilliant 4/31 in the previous ODI, gave the hosts a significant early advantage after dismissing both openers with some excellent swing-bowling, pinning Mohammad Shahzad lbw for a duck before cleaning up the dangerous Hazrat Zazai (1).
Shortly after, Gulbadin Naib followed him back to the pavilion when he played across the line to another hooping Murtagh delivery, getting trapped in front with Afghanistan flailing at 13/3.
Series level!— ICC (@ICC) August 29, 2018
Ireland survive a late stumble following @balbo90's 60 to chase down Afghanistan's 182 to win the second ODI in Belfast by 3 wickets with 6.1 overs spare.#IREvAFG scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/wb0T3EH6Z6pic.twitter.com/aZyYx8h7P8
Three maidens ensued, which prompted impatient running before some stunning work in the in-field from Andrew Balbirnie saw Hashmatullah Shahid run out for seven.
Rahmat Shah and skipper Asghar Afghan were watchful in their approach as they looked to rebuild, and although it wasn't typical limited-overs batting, some stability had been restored. Swift work behind the stumps courtesy of Ireland’s Niall O’Brien helped Simi Singh cut short the partnership when it was worth 56, with Shah falling for a steady 32 from 69 balls.
Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, playing in his 100th ODI, was the next man to fall. Peter Chase dug one in and the 33-year-old followed it wide of his off-stump, lifting the ball to a grateful Kevin O’Brien at deep backward-point.
Afghan’s wicket provided the nail in the coffin when he became the second set batsman to gift Ireland a run-out, diving and stretching to no avail as Paul Stirling threw down the stumps to dismiss the Afghanistan captain for 39 from 82 deliveries.
Murtagh continued his inspired run of form by returning to the attack to dismiss Rashid Khan, who skied one after advancing down the track. Najibullah Zadran pushed his side closer to a par score, passing 1000 ODI runs in the process, but perishing via a lovely catch from Singh on the boundary for a well-made and crucial 42.
Afghanistan edged their way to 182/9, an excellent effort from Ireland’s bowlers, in particular the potent Murtagh, who finished with 4/30, and the wicketless Boyd Rankin who strangled the run-rate with figures of 0/22 from his ten overs.
Ireland began dismally in their reply though, when 17-year old Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowled Will Porterfield, the ex-Irish captain missing an attempted cut from a straight delivery leaving his side a wicket down having not troubled the scorers. Stirling looked in supreme touch though, stroking the ball splendidly for an excellent 39 before being stumped by Shahzad off the bowling off Nabi.
Balbirnie, at No.3, saw Niall (10) and Kevin O'Brien (8) both lose their wickets, to Nabi and Khan respectively, and at 97/4, all-rounder Singh came out to the middle. He and Balbirnie picked up runs, particularly the latter, who brought up his seventh ODI 50 in the 31st over. He fell for 60 though, with 19-year old superstar Rashid doing the business with the ball, and suddenly Ireland began to falter in their pursuit.
Singh then began to run out of partners as the hosts slipped from 144/4 to 164/7, skipper Gary Wilson and Andy McBrine both falling in the single figures, but bowling hero Murtagh showed great composure under pressure to help his side over the line. Singh's unbeaten 36 was vital in his side's success considering the intense pressure that was put on the hosts towards the back end of the innings by the Afghanistan spin contingent.
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!