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Afghanistan Set to Battle Ireland in Dehradun With World Cup in Mind

Cricketnext Staff |February 20, 2019, 4:01 PM IST
Afghanistan Set to Battle Ireland in Dehradun With World Cup in Mind

Afghanistan will host Ireland for a full series starting with T20Is on Thursday, February 21st at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun.

The series consists of three T20 Internationals, five ODIs and a lone Test. Both Afghanistan and Ireland were announced as the newest Test nations by the ICC after being awarded full membership last year.

It will be Ireland's first overseas Test match, and the second for the two newest teams at the highest level.

Ireland T20I captain Paul Stirling said Afghanistan is a strong side and have been very successful in T20Is over the last few years.

“It is our first time here and we will aim to acclimatize with the conditions soon to play competitive cricket against the opposition,” said Stirling.

"We’ve played them a lot over the last few years, so hopefully we can go out there with a positive mindset. At the end of the day they’ve still got to perform as well, and I think if we play the ball and not the player in this competition then we’ll go a lot better.

“(Rashid Khan) has been the main difference between the two sides in the recent past. Whenever he performs well for them, or we don’t play him particularly well, I think that really is a big advantage for Afghanistan, so he’ll definitely be one of the bowlers we’ll be trying to negate but they’ve got more than just Rashid Khan, they’re a really good outfit,” he added.

Earlier in 2018, Ireland made its Test debut at home against Pakistan, losing by five wickets, while Afghanistan went down by an innings and 262 runs against India in Bangalore in their first five-day game.

“We got a taste of it (Test cricket) against Pakistan last year, so we’re just hungry to get our first win. We’ve got this opportunity against Afghanistan in a month’s time, but for the minute our focus is on the other two formats, particularly T20 - we’ll look forward to the Test match once the one-dayers are finished,” said Stirling about the maiden Test match.

This would also be the second time when Afghanistan and Ireland play a series against each other.

In their last encounter when Ireland hosted Afghanistan, the visitors won both the T20 series as well as the ODIs.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan meanwhile said that the series will serve as preparation for the upcoming World Cup.

“We have been training in India for the last one month as part of our preparations and are well prepared for the upcoming series,” said Afghan.

While familiar names like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi will be among the players to watch out for, the Irish will be pinning hopes on captain Paul Stirling, fast bowler Boyd Rankin and miracle man Stuart Poynter – who sealed victory with a last ball six in Ireland’s game against Oman.

Ireland T20I Squad: Paul Stirling (Captain), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Harry Tector, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker

Afghanistan T20I Squad: Asghar Afghan(C), Usman Ghani, Najeeb Tarakai, Hazratullah Zazai, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Farid Malik, Sayed Shirzad, Zia ur Rahman Sharifi, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Zahir Khan and Sharafuddin Ashraf

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