Afghanistan could not have asked for more on their return to international cricket after 10 long months on Thursday when they clinched the opening game of the three-match series against Ireland by 16 runs. Apart from the obvious euphoria of the victory, which opened their account in the ICC ODI Super League points table, Afghanistan must have also been delighted by the promising performance of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who shone through his run-a-ball 127, on the course of which he named many records to his name.
His 127 is the highest individual score by a keeper on a 50-over debut, and his 9 sixes during the innings is another record for an ODI debutant. Gurbaz, who named the quickest half-century (38 balls) as an opener on ODI debut to himself, also became the first Afghanistan player to score a century on an ODI debut.
It was his 120-run opening stand with Javed Ahmadi, which laid the foundation of an Afghanistan win before Andy McBrine inflicted a collapse. A certain positive for the hosts was also the performance of Rashid Khan, who shone with both bat and ball – scoring a cameo of 55 runs and following it by a couple of wickets in a frugal spell with the ball.
For Ireland, there were plenty of moments in the game that required only some capitalization. Even as there was promise shown through the efforts of Lorcan Tucker, Curtis Campher, and Paul Stirling, losing wickets at the wrong time led them into falling short, despite being the favorites many times during the chase. The fact that Ireland struggled to gain momentum despite having more practice behind their backs before heading into the series, highlights how good their opponents were in creating moments on the field.
With a match left after tomorrow’s game, both teams have a chance to claim the series. However, coming after their clinical show only two days ago, Asghar Afghan would not want to take the series to a decider.
Pitch and conditions
As many as 12 wickets of the total 18 in the first ODI fell to spinners, lucidly highlighting the nature of the track. That said, there was no sluggishness in the scoring rate and the game recorded well over 500 runs. Expect another free-scoring game with spinners getting the majority of wickets. Afghanistan’s 16-run win was the 31st occasion in 48 games at this venue when a team defending won.
Playing combinations for AFG vs IRE
Coming after a sensational match-winning century, Gurbaz will pick himself alongside Ahmadi for the opening combination of the team, with Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, and Najibullah Zadran following in the middle-order. Rashid Khan once again proved his capability with the bat, and he might be promoted up the order if the need arises. Naveen ul Haq and Mujeeb ur Rahman bagged three and two respectively, and will once again be on their duties with the ball.
Predicted XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Najibullah Zadran, Asghar Afghan (C), Azmatulah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Naveen ul Haq, Mujeeb ur Rahman
Despite Tucker’s 83, and the starts earned by Campher, Stirling, and Tector, Ireland lost wickets in clusters. They would want that to change at Abu Dhabi tomorrow. Andy McBrine, who bagged a fifer in the previous game, will complete the team’s spin column alongside Simi Singh, whereas Barry McCarthy and Craig Young will partner as pacers.
Predicted XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbirnie (C), Curtis Campher, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Gareth Delany, Andy McBrine, Simi Singh, Barry McCarthy, Craig Young
AFG vs IRE Head to Head
Played – 28 | Ireland – 13 | Afghanistan –14 | NR –1
AFG vs IRE Broadcast Details
Live Streaming – Fancode.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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