Ireland will look to bounce back from their defeats in the Twenty20 Internationals when they take on Afghanistan in the three-match One-Day International series, starting with the first game in Belfast later today. Ireland lost the three-match T20I series 2-0, with the third and final game being ruined by rain. They also lost the previous ODI they played against Afghanistan, in the World Cup Qualifier earlier this year. It was a result that gave Afghanistan a berth in the 2019 World Cup, a tournament that Ireland failed to qualify for. Neither team has played an ODI since that game but Afghanistan have shown tremendous form in the T20Is. They beat Bangladesh 3-0 at their adopted home Dehradun and extended the form into the Ireland T20s. They will start favourites in the ODIs too, given their dream run in white-ball cricket.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge for Ireland in the T20Is was spin. Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman spun webs around the Irish batsmen, leaving them nowhere to hide. The two spinners shared 12 wickets between them in the two T20Is, with Rashid picking seven of those. Ireland will particularly be disappointed with their effort in the second game where they folded for just 79 in 15 overs. However, Ireland can seek inspiration from the fact that they won the series 2-1 when they last faced Afghanistan in bilateral ODIs, in Sharjah. They will have to bat much better if they are to repeat such a performance, and the return of Nial O'Brien to the side should help. The series is yet another chance for Afghanistan to showcase their rise in world cricket. There isn't much 'context' for Ireland, but the story is different for the visitors. A good show will help them prepare for the World Cup next year, which will be played in pretty similar conditions in England and Wales.
Ireland: Paul Stirling, William Porterfield(capt), Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O Brien(wk), Kevin O Brien, James Shannon, Gary Wilson, Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Peter Chase, Andy McBrine, Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh, David Delany.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad(wk), Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Asghar Afghan(capt), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawlat Zadran, Sayed Shirzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Wafadar
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First Published: August 27, 2018, 3:35 PM IST