Afghanistan and Ireland will be locking horns in the first of the three-match T20I series on Friday at the Greater Noida. This series also marks the start of preparation for both the team for the upcoming T20 World Cup set to be played in Australia. While the Asghar Afghan-led side have qualified for the tournament proper, Ireland have made it to the qualification round of the mega event.
As far as Asghar Afghan leading Afghanistan leading the side is concerned, the veteran is back to where he belongs and will be keen to lead from the front. It has been a bit of musical chair stuff for Afghanistan with the board trying out Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan trying out at the coveted position before handing over it to the man who has seen it all. Afghanistan, under his captaincy, will be looking to gear up for the World Cup.
Ireland, on the other hand, are coming off after levelling the T20I series against West Indies 1-1 in January this year. They will be looking to continue the good run after several players like Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Joshua Little and Craig Young among others put their hands up in that series. The change in leadership with Andrew Balbirnie taking over the reins has also brought fresh thinking in the setup.
Pitch and Conditions
The surface at the Greater Noida has proved to be very good for batting in the three T20Is played at the venue. Another flat deck is expected to be dished out on Friday and expect the spinners to have a bit of their say as well. With the game set to be played in the afternoon, there might not be any dew. However, there is more than 60% chance of rain on Friday which might dampen the spirits of the teams.
Afghanistan will have their explosive opening duo Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz opening the innings. Karim Janat’s case has been interesting as he has been shuffled up and down every now and then. He might or might not bat at three depending upon the situation while the likes of skipper Afghan, Najibullah Zadran and the veteran Nabi will follow.
Samiullah Shenwari and Gulbadin Naib along with Rashid Khan will look to give the finishing touches to the innings. The trio will also be crucial with the ball for Afghanistan, especially Naib and Rashid. Karim Janat tends to pick wickets at crucial junctures as well while Naveen-ul-Haq is improving as death and new ball bowler with every game. Mujeeb Ur Rahman will be key with the ball as well.
Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Karim Janat, Asghar Afghan (C), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
For Ireland, their top three batsmen will have to do the bulk of the scoring. Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien both were in exceptional form with the bat in the West Indies. The skipper Balbirnie is a classy batsman and will have to hold the innings from one end. Stephen Doheny is likely to make his T20I debut with this game and don the role of the wicket-keeper as well.
He is an exciting batsman and his strike-rate of more than 132 in 28 T20s is the testament to it. He has also smacked 8 half-centuries in the shortest format thus far. Gareth Delany is a decent all-rounder and does the job fairly well in almost every match. Shane Getkate, Dockrell and Rankin will look after the bowling department while there could be toss up between Craig Young and Joshua Little. The latter did really well in the West Indies series.
Probable XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbirnie (C), Stephen Thomas Doheny (WK), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Simi Singh, Shane Getkate, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Craig Young/Joshua Little.
Probable Top Performers
Rahmanullah Gurbaz – Afghanistan| Paul Stirling– Ireland
Live Streaming – rtasports.live
Match Timings – 14:00 IST & local; 08:30 GMT
The prediction is for Afghanistan to win the match.
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