It was a series where both sides scored runs by the bucketful including the highest score in the format ever but the conditions suited Afghanistan that much more. The ODIs like the T20Is will be staged at the same venue - Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium and if the totals in the 20-over contests were anything to go by, it is poised to be yet another high-scoring series.
The good news for the Irishman is that two of their most experienced players in William Porterfield and Tim Murtagh are back for the ODI leg and that is bound to give them much more confidence. Porterfield will resume his duties as captain and alongside the likes of Andrew Balbirnie, Kevin O' Brien and Paul Stirling will lead the batting department.
While Ireland will want to make use of the impeccable batting-friendly conditions they will have to be wary of a major threat - Rashid Khan. The 20-year-old has easily been one of the most sought after cricketers in recent times and is undoubtedly a major thorn in Ireland's journey as was visible in the three T20Is. In a series where the average score was 188 which means bowlers on an average conceded well over nine runs per over, Rashid's economy rate stood at 6.08. In the whole series, he conceded just two fours and two sixes and was comfortably the highest wicket-taker finishing with 11 wickets at an average of 6.63!
There are no second thoughts that how Ireland tackle Rashid's ten overs will go a long way in defining the eventual outcome of the series. Barring Rashid, they also have to face the likes of Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi intelligently on surfaces which are bound to take spin from the outset.
Ireland's bowling attack will be led by the irrepressible Boyd Rankin who was mighty impressive in the T20Is while the spinners Simi Singh, George Dockrell and part-time spin of Stirling will have a key role to play too.
As far as Afghanistan are concerned, they have most corners covered. Their rise in world cricket over the last few years has been nothing short of phenomenal and they are continuously giving much higher-ranked opposition a run for their money. In recent times Afghanistan have defeated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in ODIs while also tied a game with against heavyweights India. They have won six of their last 10 ODIs and certainly head into the five-match series as favourites.
While the bowling attack looks a formidable unit, it is the batsmen who will have to step up. Barring Nabi, Hazratullah Zazai, and to an extent Usman Ghani there weren't too many bright sparks in the T20Is. Ireland possesses a well-rounded bowling unit and the hosts will have to put their best foot forward to get past them.
Mohammad Shahzad comes back into the ODI squad and the onus will be on him to get the side off to a blazing start. Rahmat Shah, who has been one of the more consistent batsmen for the Afghans in recent times is also there and along with Nabi and Zazai will be responsible to get the runs on the board. The hosts will also want their captain Asghar Afghan, who has looked rather scratchy of late, to regain some of his form.
The surface at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium is once again expected to be laden in favour of the batsmen but spin will likely play a huge role as well. Being a day/night affair and the slightly lower temperatures in Dehradun, the ball is expected to nip around a bit under lights too.
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan(c), Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Dawlat Zadran, Zahir Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, Sayed Shirzad, Fareed Malik
Ireland: William Porterfield(c), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, James McCollum, Kevin O Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker
AfghanistanAfghanistan vs Ireland 2019irelandMohammad NabiPaul StirlingRashid Khantim murtaghWilliam Porterfield
First Published: February 27, 2019, 3:01 PM IST