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AFG v IRE, 3rd ODI, Review: Dockrell and Stirling annihilate Afghanistan

Ireland, on the back of stupendous performances by Paul Stirling and George Dockrell, won the contest by 5 wickets.

Paul Stirling
Paul Stirling. (Photo Source: Twitter)

After a disappointing start to their One-Day International series against Afghanistan, Ireland stormed back to register a victory at Sharjah. Going into the 3rd match, while Afghanistan looked to regain the energy, Ireland wished to carry forward their winning momentum. With the series at 1-1, the deciding contest promised to dish out competitive cricket from both teams.

Afghanistan tried their hearts out, but Ireland brushed them aside by 5 wickets to bag the series. Ashgar Stanikzai won the toss and elected to put runs on the board. They had a slow, but steady start through their openers- Javed Ahmadi and Noor Ali Zadran. However, both openers perished within a space of six balls.

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Ahmadi, after scoring an impressive 27 runs, perished to Tim Murtagh. In the eighth over, Zadran became Boyd Rankin’s first victim as he fell prey to an inside edge. Stanikzai, the Afghan skipper, ground hard for 24 balls, but was dismissed by Paul Stirling for five runs as he holed out to point. Nasir Jamal and Rahmat Shah attempted to resurrect the innings and took the Afghans past the three-figure mark.

However, both were dismissed in quick succession. George Dockrell, the left-arm tweaker accounted for both the dismissals to leave Afghanistan in tatters. Meanwhile, he also nipped out Mohammed Nabi’s crucial wicket. After 30.1 overs, Afghanistan reeled at 109 runs for the loss of six wickets. They were in dire straits and needed someone to put his hand up and shepherd them to a respectable total.

Rashid Khan came in at the fall of the sixth wicket and showed immense maturity. He played some delightful strokes and stitched together a useful hand of 44 runs in 55 balls, which included six boundaries and a six. He got absolutely no support from the tail-enders. The knock eventually guided the Afghans to 177 all out.

Brain McCarthy eventually got rid of him in the 49th over. George Dockrell was arguably Ireland’s best bowler with four wickets, while Brian McCarthy outdrew the lower-order batsmen with three wickets. On a decent batting wicket, Afghanistan had to play out of their skins to give Ireland a run for their money.

The Paul Stirling show

They started off handsomely and dismissed William Porterfield, the Irish skipper, for four runs. Nevertheless, Stirling treaded the aggressive route and scored freely. He and Andrew Balbirnie stitched a healthy partnership of 62 runs that set the tone for Ireland’s run chase. Birbirnie perished to Mohammed Nabi for 35 runs in the 19th over.

Nonetheless, Paul kept attacking the bowlers and went on his own merry way. The right-hander, eventually, brought up his sixth ODI ton at more than a run-a-ball. He was pretty severe on left-arm seamer Shapoor Zadran as he hit him for four monstrous sixes to dent his confidence and eradicate any chances of an Afghan comeback.

Zadran had an off-day as he finished with dismal figures of 7-0-71-0. Rashid picked up a couple of late wickets, but the game by then was already headed for an Irish victory. Nonetheless, the Afghan spinners bowled accurately throughout. Rashid produced as many as 42 dot balls in his nine-over spell and finished with an economy of 1.88.

Nabi gave apt support by hitting the right channels and also picking up the wickets of Balbirnie and Gary Wilson. For his stupendous knock, Paul Stirling was crowned with the Player of the Match award. He also earned the Player of the Series award with 188 runs in three games.

Brief Scores:

Afghanistan 177 all out in 48.2 overs (Rashid Khan 44, Rahmat Shah 44; George Dockrell 4/28, Brian McCarthy 3/32)

Ireland 180/5 in 38 overs (Paul Stirling 101, Andrew Balbirnie 35; Rashid Khan 2/17, Mohammed Nabi 2/28)

Ireland beat Afghanistan by 5 wickets

Man of the Match: Paul Stirling

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