AFG v IRE, 1st ODI Review: Porterfield’s valiant knock goes in vain as Afghanistan take 1-0 lead

Afghanistan players celebrate the series victory. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Aakash Sivasubramaniam

Freelancer Writer

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Having already swept the Irish side in the T20 series, Afghanistan looked to start off well in the first one-day International against the Irish side at Greater Noida. Asghar Stanikzai won the toss and elected to bat first on a deck which looked like a good batting track.

Ireland historically had an edge over the Tigers with 5 wins in 10 games under their belt. There were a lot of changes for both the sides from their T20I XI last week.

Afghanistan Innings:

Afghanistan got off to another good start on this tour with Noor Ali Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad scoring 11 runs off the bowling of Tim Murtagh in just the first over the innings. The Irish bowler erred his line in the first over with two juicy half volleys. Surprisingly, Porterfield decided to give the ball to the young George Dockrell, who opened the bowling from the other end with a slip in place.

Dockrell’s first over was mostly on the line with a boundary off the delivery that was dead on the middle stump. The wicket looked absolutely dead and flat, which would aid only the spinners in the overs to come. The first real chance of getting a wicket was in the 4th over the innings when a direct hit would have sent Noor Ali back to the pavilion.

A punch off the front foot straight past the bowler by Noor Ali Zadran resulted in the fifty-run-partnership for the Afghans. The Irish fielders failed to capitalise on the opportunities given to them by the Afghan batsmen. It was Kevin O’Brien next who missed an extremely simple chance to send Noor Ali Zadran to the pavilion.

Kevin was quick to make amends for his mistake with a direct-hit in the 11th over of the innings to break the partnership by dismissing Afghanistan’s opener Mohammad Shahzad, who had scored 43 runs.

Rahmat Shah and Noor Ali continued Afghan’s progress with a steady partnership of 83 runs. Shah was the aggressor in the partnership when he completed his fifty almost run a ball. A steady innings was required on the other end and Noor Ali was more than happy to provide Shah with one.

The partnership was broken however shortly by the left-arm spinner Dockrell when Noor Ali was caught on the edge of the circle straight to the hands of the substitute fielder McBrine. Asghar Stanikzai and Shah continued their progress towards the projected score of 300. Shah continued his innings with more lusty blows against the ordinary Irish bowling.

Stanikzai, gave his wicket away when he poked a ball outside off stump into the hands of the wicket-keeper Neil O’Brien. With 35 overs done in the game, Afghanistan had scored a total of 180 runs with the loss of 3 wickets. Afghanistan’s projected score had fallen down to 258 runs with the wicket of the in-form batsman Rahmat Shah, who played a tired shot when he was at 78 to give Kevin his first wicket of the innings.

Afghanistan reached the total of 200 in just the 39th over, with 260 runs in sight for the Tigers’. The Afghan pair of Hashmatullah Shahidi and Samiullah Shenwari started off their partnership steadily with 35 runs in the first 4 overs. With only 6 overs remaining in the innings, the pair picked momentum with 18 run over in the 45th over of the innings.

However, a Kevin O Brien’s last over of the innings pulled back the momentum of the Tigers’ by picking up 2 wickets and conceding only 3 runs in the 46th over the innings. Afghanistan managed to finish the innings with 39 runs off the last 4 overs of the innings. It was also the Tigers’ third highest ODI score after their 295/8 against Scotland, and 302/5 against UAE.

Ireland Innings:

The experienced Ed Joyce and Paul Stirling began Ireland’s reply with 8 runs off only the second over of their innings. Amir Hamza began the 3rd over with deliveries moving out starting from the line of the middle and off stump. Hamza’s consistency brought him immediate success when the experienced Joyce knocked one off the pads to get dismissed at 4 runs.

Ireland, just like Afghanistan were aided by the Afghani fielders who dropped Stirling when he was batting at 10 runs. Hamza’s next over was filled with controversy as Ireland’s captain William Porterfield was given the benefit of doubt in a tight stumping call.

Slowly but steadily, the partnership between the two grew and they brought up Ireland’s fifty in the just the 9th over of the innings. Porterfield and Sterling were batting at 27 and 23 respectively when they brought up Ireland’s 50.

Mohammad Nabi was brought on in the 10th over of the innings to make the breakthrough, his spell lasting for a solitary over. Hamza returned back for another quick burst in the 12th over of the innings. Hamza’s return, however, did not go according to the plan as Porterfield made use of the call to score back to back boundaries off Hamza.

Meanwhile, the pair brought up their fifty-run partnership which gave the Irish a real shot at victory. Rashid Khan, the hero of the T20I series win was nowhere seen in the picture with the captain deciding that it was not the right time to bring him on for a burst.

Hamza Hotak returned back for his third spell of the match once again for one over. It was finally in the 19th over the innings that the captain decided to give Rashid Khan a run.

Rashid started his spell by conceding two boundaries in as many deliveries to the Irish captain. Stanikzai brought on Mohammad Nabi from the other end. The spin duo failed to dismiss either of the batsmen in the next few overs. It was only in the 29th over, ten overs after Rashid Khan began his spell that he got a wicket and that too of the in-form Paul Stirling who scored 68 runs off just 90 balls.

Niall O’Brien, who was playing his first match of the tour walked in to bat when the total read 170/2. Together Niall and Porterfield had a partnership of 36 runs before Niall was dismissed by a straighter delivery from the leg-spinner Rashid. In the process, Porterfield reached his ninth ODI century in the 32nd over off just 83 balls.

Dawlat Zadran followed it up with 2 wickets in the 37th over of the innings with the key wicket of the Irish captain and the hard-hitting Gary Wilson with the total reading 215/5. Ireland, needed 78 more runs in the next 13 overs to go one up in the series. Thompson followed suit with a mistimed shot to pick the substitute Shafiqullah, giving the left-armer his 3rd wicket.

Kevin O’ Brien failed to read the spin and was soon dismissed in the 42nd over of the innings to a straighter delivery from Amir Hamza. Rashid followed it up with another wicket late in the innings, claiming his 3rd wicket of the innings.

Ireland needed 59 runs from 42 balls with only 2 wickets remaining and the Irish batsmen failed to capitalise on the foundation laid by the top-order batsmen. The last two wickets were a mere formality for the Afghan bowlers and they picked up the last 2 wickets by conceding 20 runs.

Ireland captain William Porterfield was given the Man of the Match for his excellent knock of 119 runs in just 98 deliveries. This gave Stanikzai and boys a victory to give them a lead of 1-0 in the ODI series.

Brief Scores:

Afghanistan 292/7 in 50 overs (Rahmat Shah 78, Kevin O’Brien 3/47)

Ireland 262 all out in 46.5 Overs (William Porterfield 119, Rashid Khan 4/48)

Afghanistan won by 30 runs