Team effort sees Ireland convincingly defeat Afghanistan in first ODI
BELFAST – A gritty batting display followed by an exceptional bowling performance by the Ireland men’s cricket team saw the home side convincing winners against Afghanistan in game one of the GS Holdings ODI Challenge at Stormont today.
After Afghan captain Gulbadin Naib won the toss and sent Ireland in to bat, the visitors bowling attacked sought to use the seam-friendly conditions to make early in-roads. The loss of James McCollum and the in-form Andy Balbirnie, both dismissed by Dawlat Zadran for 4, had Ireland set back on their heels at 35-2 in the 9th over.
The experience of Irish batters Paul Stirling and William Porterfield then came to the fore as the pair fought to stabilise the innings and shared a 99-run third wicket partnership. Stirling (71 from 94 balls) continued his rich vein of form this summer, having scored 77 and 130 in his last two innings for the men in green, while captain Porterfield (53 from 83 balls) scored his second consecutive half-century after registering 93 in his last outing against Bangladesh last Wednesday.
With Ireland sitting at 134-2 in the 34th over, the sudden loss of Stirling and Porterfield in the space of eight balls rocked the Irish side and restricted the home sides momentum.
A well-compiled 32 from 44 balls by Kevin O’Brien was the only contribution of note following this, and Ireland was eventually dismissed for 210 from 48.5 overs.
For the Afghans, Dawlat (3-35) and Aftab Alam (3-28) claimed three wickets apiece, as the Irish side looked to have registered a below-par score.
Looking for early wickets, the Irish bowlers led by Tim Murtagh (2-12) and Andy McBrine (0-17) began with an incredible spell of tight bowling. Murtagh claimed two wickets early and the visitors were reeling at 19-2 in the 9th over.
Struggling to break the shackles, pressure built up and further wickets fell with Mark Adair (4-19) picking up where Murtagh left off, removing Hazratullah Zazai for 14 and Hashmutullah Shahidi for 12. A 54-run stand between Asghar Afghan and Mohammad Nabi threatened to get the visitors back into the game, but three wickets to Boyd Rankin (including his 100th wicket in ODI cricket) saw the end of the visiting teams resistance.
Adair came back at the end to clean up the final two wickets, including a spectacular caught-and-bowled effort to finish the innings. Afghanistan were dismissed for 138 runs, with Ireland claiming a convincing 72-run win.
Speaking after the game, Mark Adair said:
“It’s nice to come on when the lads have built a bit of pressure up – Andy [McBrine] and Murts [Tim Murtagh] gave them absolutely nothing and it is something we hadn’t done in the Tri-Series so it was nice to put things right. The lads were great in the field – it was just a good team performance.”
Asked what the view of the team was at the change of innings, Adair said:
“At one point we were looking at 250, but had to reassess when we lost a few wickets. We thought given a chance we could get it up to 220 or 230, but they bowled well and I don’t think it was a pitch that anyone could go in and start very well on. I think the lads who got runs grafted hard and a win’s a win, so we don’t look on it too badly.”
“We were a bit disappointed coming out of the Tri-Series, our bowling in particular – I don’t think we managed to string too many games together where we were putting pressure on or being consistent enough, and I think that’s where Murts and Scra [McBrine] came in today and set the tone perfectly.”
Ireland and Afghanistan will meet again at the same venue on Tuesday, starting at 10.45am. Tickets available at the gate, with children under-16 free entry.
SCORECARD IN BRIEF
Ireland v Afghanistan, one-day international, 19 May 2019, Stormont
• Ireland 210 (48.5 overs; P Stirling 71, W Porterfield 53; A Alam 3-28)
• Afghanistan 138 (35.4 overs; A Afghan 29; M Adair 4-19, B Rankin 3-40)
Ireland won by 72 runs
A full scorecard can be found here