It is a season of whitewashes in International cricket. In the past six months, almost every team has been at the receiving end of a series whitewash, and on Tuesday, the Irish will lock horns with Afghanistan in the third and final T20I of the three-match series, in a bid to ensure that their name is not in that dreaded list of teams’ who have been handed a clean slate by their opponents in a bilateral rubber.
If you look at the top-run scorers of the series, the first three spots are occupied by the Irish batsmen in Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie and Harry Tector, but the fact that each of them haven’t been able to convert their starts into a 70 or an 80, has resulted in the position that the visitors find themselves after the first two games.
The duo of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman have been their chief tormentors and are one of the main reasons why Irish batsmen haven’t been able to launch after a good start. Ireland’s bowling too has left a lot to be desired. Barring Simi Singh (2 wickets at 16.5) to an extent, none of their bowlers have made any sort of impact, resulting in the Afghan middle-order taking full advantage of their indiscipline.
Heading into the final T20I, the home side will be looking for a series whitewash, while Ireland will hope to learn from their mistakes and pull one back on Tuesday.
Why change anything that ain’t broken? Afghanistan should go with the same side that has won the last two matches. Along with the experience of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan side will be bolstered by the likes of skipper Asghar Afghan and Hazratullah Zazai. Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who also stitched a vital 35-run knock in the previous match, is expected to propel Afghanistan to a stable start.
Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Karim Janat, Asghar Afghan (C), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Shapoor Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Ireland’s bowling has left a lot to be desired in the last two games. And, they might look to go give a chance to Barry McCarthy in place of one of their fast bowlers.
Probable XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbirnie (C), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker (WK), Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Craig Young, Joshua Little/Barry McCarthy
Focus will be on
Rashid Khan [AFG] – Once again the onus of leading the bowling attack will be on Rashid Khan. The vile leg-spinner has claimed four wickets in the past two games, including a three-for in the first, and he and Mujib will once again pose the biggest threat to the Irish.
Kevin O’Brien [IRE] – 35 off 17 & 19 off 11 balls. These have been Kevin O’ Brien’s score in the series thus far. The all-rounder is in brilliant hitting form but hasn’t been able to convert it into a big inning, something Ireland will isn’t the case in the third T20I.
14-3- Afghanistan’s W/L record in 17 T20Is against Ireland.
3.40- Afghanistan’s W/L ratio since the start of January 2016. No one has a better W/L ratio than the Afghans, who have won 34 of their 44 completed games, followed by India, whose W/L ratio stands at 2.6 (52 wins and 20 defeats in 72 games).
14-13- Ireland’s W/L ratio after 28 T20Is since January 2019.
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Match timings – 2:00 pm IST, 2:00 pm local
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