Ireland, At The End Of Six Years Of Drought, The Level Of The Series > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Ireland need to end six-year drought to level series
Ireland have not won a Twenty20 International (T20I) against Afghanistan since 2013, the streak includes 8 defeats and an abandoned game. So when Paul Stirling's side take the field on Saturday (February 23) for the second T20I they will have to find a way to overcome the mental block else another bilateral series - third in a row - will be lost to the Asian side.
The obvious weakness for the Irish has been against Afghanistan's spinners. Though they know all about them having faced the trio on numerous occasions, they still struggle to pick them, especially Rashid Khan, who has 20 wickets at less than 8 against Ireland. Add Mujeeb ur Rahman's variations with the new ball and Mohammad Nabi's guile and there's no breaking out of the spin web.
Ireland are also short in terms of experience. There is no William Porterfield or Niall O'Brien, the two most experienced batsmen - Stirling and Kevin O'Brien - open the innings which in turn exposes a young and an inexperienced middle order to the spin troika. So a lot rides upon the openers and Andy Balbirnie at number three, if they can get the team off to a good start, there will be a chance of shifting the pressure back on Afghanistan.
Afghanistan are number eight in the T20 rankings for a reason. They have a method that works wonderfully for them in the shortest format of the game and it is quite simple - strangle the opposition with spin. Mujeeb builds the pressure at the top by giving away nothing and that in turn allows Nabi and Rashid to pick wickets. The rest have eight overs among them and Afghanistan are well equipped there as well with the likes of Karim Janat and Fareed Ahmad.
The batting also has depth as was witnessed in the first game. Struggling at 50 for 5, Afghanistan still found a way to chase down 133. The experienced Nabi took the game deep along with Najibullah Zadran and the duo destroyed Irish hopes with an 86-run stand. The only way the Asian side can lose is if complacency sets in.
When: February 23, 2019 at 18:30 IST
Where: Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun
What to expect: Thunderstorms were expected the day before the game but there was nothing much to cause disruption. The weather forecast is pleasant on match-day and only gets cooler during the evening. So players should enjoy these conditions.
Afghanistan: The Asghar Afghan led side will likely not tinker with a winning combination, especially with a chance to wrap up the series.
Ireland: The visitors need to counter the spin trio and in order to do that, they need to ensure the batting line-up is strong. James Shannon, who has scored a 60 against India, is one of the options and so is keeper-batsman Lorcan Tucker.
What they said:
"They bowled quite well. Credit to the bowlers, they pulled things back really well, but unfortunately we couldn't get that extra wicket at the right time." - Paul Stirling, Ireland captain
"In every series the first game is very important. In the top-order, we played some poor shots, but the middle-order was impressive today and didn't disappoint, so I am happy with Najib and Nabi. We hope the guys get some good exposure, especially the young guys, so that they are ready for the World Cup." - Asghar Afghan, Afghanistan captain
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