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HomeCricketAfghanistan defeated Ireland by 10 runs, levels series 1-1

Afghanistan defeated Ireland by 10 runs, levels series 1-1

SHARJAH:  Ireland Men fell to a narrow 10-run defeat at the hands of Afghanistan on Sunday, levelling the three match T20I series at 1-1 and setting up a decider in Monday’s final match of the tour.

Having won the opening T20I two days previously, Ireland knew a win in the second game would clinch the series in their favour.

But, chasing 153 for victory, they were undone by the brilliance of opposing captain Rashid Khan, whose 4-14 with the ball ripped through Ireland’s middle-order on route to victory. Some exceptional late hitting from Gareth Delany (39) kept Irish hopes alive but they eventually came up 10 runs short of their target.

While Afghanistan remained unchanged from the first T20I, Ireland welcomed George Dockrell back into the team, replacing Neil Rock after recovering from illness. The game was a landmark occasion for Andrew Balbirnie, who made his 100th T20I appearance – becoming just the fourth Ireland Men’s cricketer to do so.

Having been put in the field by Khan at the toss, Paul Stirling’s side made a blistering start thanks to new ball pair Mark Adair (3-27) and Josh Little (2-20). They each struck twice in the first four overs of the match, leaving their hosts reeling at 14-4.

Sediqullah Atal and Mohammad Nabi recovered with a 79-run partnership for the fifth-wicket, which was eventually broken by sharp fielding off his own bowling by Curtis Campher who raced into the outfield and returned a bullet throw to Lorcan Tucker which found Atal short of his ground.

Barry McCarthy’s two wickets in the final over took him to 50 in T20Is, Afghanistan setting Ireland with a target of 153 to seal the series.

The experienced duo of Stirling and Balbirnie made a strong start to the run chase before the former departed for 24 in the final over of the powerplay and the score 49-1.

Balbirnie eventually made 45 from 44 balls in an innings that included two fours and two sixes but wickets fell around the Leinster Lightning batter. Khan then took centre stage with the ball, rushing through Ireland’s batters and removing dangermen Lorcan Tucker and Harry Tector with successive deliveries.

Teenage tweaker Nangeyalia Kharote’s (2-23) excellent form also continued as Ireland failed to find an answer to Afghanistan’s spinners until Delany’s knock of 39 from only 18 deliveries. His innings contained three fours and four sixes as Ireland hit 40 from the final three overs, but it wasn’t enough to claim victory.

MATCH SUMMARY

Afghanistan v Ireland, 1st T20I, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates — 17 March 2024

Afghanistan 152-9 (20 overs; M Nabi 59, S Atal 35; M Adair 3-27, J Little 2-20, B McCarty 2-33)

Ireland 142-8 (10 overs; A Balbirnie 45, G Delany 39, P Stirling 24; R Khan 4-14, N Kharote 2-23)

Afghanistan won by 10 runs

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