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Cricket news - Can confident Ireland make it two in a row?
Having halted their losing streak against Afghanistan, Ireland would look to build on the momentum and grab an unassailable lead in the five-match ODI series when the two teams clash in Game 4 in Dehradun on Friday (March 8).
After being beaten in four games on the trot across the two limited-overs formats and a washout, Ireland finally managed to pull one over Afghanistan with a narrow four-wicket win in the third ODI. On a slow and low track at the Rajeev Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Ireland's batsmen were often found wanting against Afghanistan's spinners. However, Andrew Balbirnie's match-winning hundred in those tough conditions showed the runs are there for the taking for those who can dig in. His unbeaten 145, and a vital 143-run stand with George Dockrell, should inspire confidence in the rest of the line up. Ireland have seen some sparks of brilliance, but never the consistency in their batting department that led to a win-less trip until Tuesday.
The challenge for the Irish team is to now do what they haven't done a lot of in their rivalry with the Asian side. Only thrice have Ireland managed to beat Afghanistan in successive ODI games in their nine-year history. If they do so, on Friday, Ireland will ensure against a possible third series loss to Afghanistan in the format in five attempts.
Ireland have struggled with consistency with the ball too, often faltering in the death overs where Afghanistan have taken the game away from them. While on the other hand, the "hosts" have been led well by the spin duo of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. With the series on the line, Afghanistan would once again be banking on their bowlers to show them the way.
Afghanistan though have seen a different batsman put their hand up whenever the going got tough, but would much rather prefer consistency. The starts have been shaky, much to Ireland's credit, that put undue pressure on the middle order most of the times. With World Cup barely months away, Afghanistan would be hoping to zero in on a batting core at the earliest.
When: March 8, 2019; 1:00PM IST | 7:30AM GMT
Where: Rajeev Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun
What to expect: A partly clouded but humid day in Dehradun, with slight chances of rain in the afternoon.
Afghanistan: With a squad of 21, Afghanistan haven't shied away from changes to their winning combinations and might continue to experiment with the bigger goal of World Cup in mind.
Ireland: Ireland finally seemed to have cracked the winning formula against Afghanistan and, unless there's an injury concern, are likely to field an unchanged eleven.
What they said
"The game definitely has developed in the last number of years - you look at teams around the world and you see there are guys coming in lower down the order winning matches. That's what you have to have - a batting line-up that bats deep. There's not too many bowlers around the world these days who can't play a little cameo with the bat, so it is more and more important these days that bowlers coming into the team are looking to add value with the bat as well as the ball." - George Dockrell
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, Stuart Thompson
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