A different brand of cricket unfurls when mavericks like Ireland and Afghanistan are pitted against each other, and after a tense and confusing buildup, the three-match ODI series between the two nations will commence on 21st January 2021. COVID-19 has played its part in the scheduling of the series too. Earlier scheduled to start on January 18, the delayed arrival of the hosts in UAE meant that it had to be postponed.
Further, owing to the pandemic, the UAE government temporarily suspended visas for nationals of 13 countries, leading the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) to make emergency plans to hold the three-match series in Oman instead. However, Cricket Ireland’s reluctance to play in gulf country had pushed the fate of the series in jeopardy again.
To both the nations’ respite, the ACB eventually managed the requisite visas to UAE, but not before another delay in the process. After the entire saga, which witnessed postponements due to the pandemic to issues around visas, and disagreements over the venue, when the Afghanistan cricket team finally takes the field at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, it will end their 10-month hiatus from international cricket.
The upcoming series also marks the commencement of the World Cup Super League campaign for Asghar Afghan’s men, who last featured in international cricket in March 2020, against Ireland during the three-match T20I series played in Greater Noida. Thanks to the strange time that followed and all that the team got in terms of match practice is a tour game against their immediate rivals, which they won by 23 runs.
In terms of match practice, Ireland, who are coming after drawing a four-match series – where two were canceled due to COVID-19 related concerns – against UAE by 1-1, have a brighter picture to show, and they will play their second ODI series in the crucial Super League, the qualifying route for the 2023 World Cup.
Pitch and conditions
The track at Abu Dhabi is invariably known to assist the spinners, and the same was evident even during the recent series between Ireland and UAE. The venue is not high-scoring, and only thrice in 47 encounters have teams managed to cross the 300-run mark. Given the 30-17 record in favor of teams batting first, the ideal choice upon winning the toss needs no mention.
Playing combinations for AFG vs IRE
There is some interesting talent to look out for after Afghanistan has dropped Hazratullah Zazai and Samiullah Shenwari from their 16-man squad and has named wicketkeeper-batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Azmatullah Omarzai, who are expected to make their ODI debuts.
Eyes will be fixated on Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who all have joined national duty after leaving their BBL commitments in the middle. Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, and Gurbaz, all scored a half-century in the practice game are expected to hold their positions.
Predicted XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Javed Ahmadi/Usman Ghani, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan (C), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, Sayed Shirzad/Gulbadin Naib, Naveen-ul-Haq
Ireland has some veteran campaigners in Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, and Andy Balbirnie, who will be followed by Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, and the young sensation Curtis Campher in the middle-order. Given the spin-assisting conditions, Balbirnie’s men will be highly reliant on their spin duo of Simi Singh and Andy McBrine.
All-rounder Shane Getkate has been added to the squad as a replacement for David Delany, who had to return home after he faced some knee discomfort.
Predicted XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andy Balbirnie (C), Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker (WK), Curtis Campher, Craig Young/Gareth Delany, Simi Singh, Andy McBrine, Mark Adair, Barry McCarthy.
AFG vs IRE Head to Head
Played – 27 | Ireland – 13 | Afghanistan –13 | NR –1
Rashid Khan has bagged 48 wickets against Ireland in 23 ODIs – the most he has against any nation in ODI cricket.
In 26 ODI innings against Afghanistan, Paul Stirling has got 1082 runs at a marvelous average of 43.28, with 10 half-centuries and a century to his name.
AFG vs IRE Broadcast Details
Live Streaming will be available on Fancode.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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