Preview: Can Ireland level the series?

March 9th 2019 by Billy Remmington, Wisden | International

Preview: Can Ireland level the series?

Can Ireland bounce back?

As an entertaining series draws to a close and the solitary Test match inches nearer, there is still one huge game to play.

Having drawn parity in the series in the third ODI thanks to Andy Balbirnie’s magnificent 145 not out, Ireland endured a difficult time out in the fourth ODI. While Afghanistan were perilously positioned at one stage on 81-6, they managed to get themselves up to a competitive total of 223. In response, Ireland was skittled for 114.

Depsite the result, there were quite a few things to smile about with the ball. James Cameron-Dow impressed in just his third ODI, with his 3-32 leading the way for the bowling attack. Andy McBrine impressed once more with his tweakers, notching figures of 2-37. In fact, McBrine’s role as an opening bowler has seen him prevail to be an incredibly reliable performer in this series so far, and his economy rate of 4.03 is excellent considering the potent threat of the opposition.

It wasn’t a case of resting on laurels for the men in green after restricting their opponents, as Afghanistan’s bowlers put in an excellent shift. Thwarting the threat of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman will always be a tough ask. The former is the No.1 ranked all-rounder in the format, while the latter, aged just 17, has on multiple occasions this series showcased his immense ability.

Negotiating a world-class bowling attack is obviously high on the agenda for Ireland, however, as was seen in the previous ODI, capitalising on good starts with the ball is also key.

At the conclusion of the last match, Ireland captain William Porterfield looked forward to the last ODI as such: “While there is not a lot you can do in one day - you can go in the nets and get yourself feeling good - but we’ve just got to approach the game like we have done every other game in the series. We’ve lost one and bounced back, we’ve now just got to bounce back again. If we can negate a few individual errors over the 100 overs then we’re not far off.”

Key battle – Seeing off Afghanistan’s lower order

While it was the openers that caused destruction for the home side during the T20Is, thus far in the ODIs it is Afghanistan’s lower order that has been a thorn in the side of Ireland. Najibullah Zadran dragged the hosts into contention in the third match with a brilliant century from number seven, and the previous match saw Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan record half-centuries from eight and nine, respectively.

Conditions

It is set to be a gorgeous day in Dehradun, with temperatures predicted to peak in the low 20s.

Squads

Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan(c), Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Dawlat Zadran, Zahir Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, Sayed Shirzad, Fareed Malik

Ireland: William Porterfield(c), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, James McCollum, Kevin O Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker


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