Stirling (70) and Balbirnie (68) were the top scorers for Ireland as they comfortably chased down the target of 217 in 47.2 overs to ensure the five-match series ended 2-2 after rain had washed out the second ODI.
Given the depth of Afghanistan’s spin attack – they had four spinners they could call upon – the chase was never going to be a cakewalk despite the low nature of the target.
A good start was necessary and that was exactly what Stirling and fellow opener William Porterfield provided that for Ireland.
The two strung together a 57-run partnership before Porterfield was bowled by Chinaman bowler Zahir Khan for 17.
Undeterred, Stirling proceeded to put together another solid partnership with new batsman Balbirnie, the two scoring 81 runs between them.
They looked likely to take the game home before Stirling fell victim to an unfortunate LBW decision off Rashid Khan’s bowling, with replays suggesting the ball would have likely missed the stumps.
New batsman Simi Singh didn’t last too long either, with Zahir once again doing the job for his side. But the damage had been done by that point, with Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brien getting 46 runs between them.
Balbirnie would depart towards the end of the innings after Mujeeb ur Rahman castled his stumps but it was too little too late for Afghanistan.
Earlier skipper Asghar Afghan stepped up for his side once again, hitting a gritty 82 after an early collapse left them staring down the barrel at 50/4.
Afghanistan were in a spot of bother after being put in to bat first when Afghan strung together some important partnerships to negate Ireland's good showing with the ball, which eventually saw Afghanistan end the innings at 216-6.
Afghan, who made useful contributions of 75 and 54 in the last two games, put on 76 runs with veteran batsman Mohammad Nabi, who made 40 to bring the innings back on track.
He was joined by Rashid Khan when Nabi departed. Rashid hit an unbeaten 35 as they put together 65 runs for the seventh wicket before the leg-spinner had to retire hurt.
Afghan's 111-ball stay consisted of 6 fours and 2 sixes.
George Dockrell snared up a couple of wickets with his left-arm spin after striking on successive deliveries and was on a hat-trick in his third over but Nabi played out the hat-trick ball without much fuss.
The two teams will next play a one-off Test at the same venue that gets underway on Friday (March 15).
Afghanistan vs Ireland 2019andrew balbirnieAsghar AfghanMohammad NabiMujeeb Ur RahmanPaul StirlingRashid KhanWilliam Porterfield
First Published: March 10, 2019, 8:26 PM IST