Afghanistan vs Ireland, 1st T20I, Preview: Asghar Afghan-led side hopes to continue domination over the visitors
Afghanistan have won all their 16 T20Is in Asia.
Updated - Feb 20, 2019 5:42 pm
Afghanistan and Ireland will renew their rivalry as the two teams face each other for the first time in the sub-continent. Afghanistan are playing as hosts at their adopted home venue in Dehradun. Though this is a T20 International, the Asian side will be looking to build a team towards the upcoming World Cup which will be played in England and Wales.
Ireland have missed out on qualification this time but they will have a lot to look forward to in this series. The visitors will be aiming to better their T20I record against Afghanistan having won only once in five matches so far. Moreover, their recent win over the Netherlands off the last ball when Stuart Poynter hit a six to break the Dutch jinx in the format.
The confidence will be high for them. Having said that, Afghanistan are a brute force especially in the Asian conditions where their spinners stranglehold the opposition and Ireland must be wary of the same.
Afghanistan have dropped Mohammad Shahzad from the T20I side. Hazratullah Zazai and Usman Ghani is the new opening pair for them while the middle-order will constitute of Asghar Afghan, the veteran Nabi and the hard-hitter Shafiqullah Shafiq. Samiullah Shenwari and Najibullah Zadran, who was their star in the Asia Cup last year, will also make their presence felt in the batting line-up.
Rashid Khan will lead the three-man spin attack with Sayed Shirzad and Farid Malik looking after the pace bowling department. Karim Janat might also be in line to play as a bowling all-rounder.
Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Asghar Afghan (c), Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah Shafiq (wk), Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sayed Shirzad, Farid Malik.
Ireland are unlikely to make many changes to their winning combination from their last game against the Netherlands. The punt to send Kevin O’Brien to open has worked amazingly for them and he should continue at that position along with the skipper Paul Stirling. Andrew Balbirnie has also settled into the number three slot and they have some decent hitters in Stuart Poynter and Simi Singh down the order.
Shane Getkate is an unknown entity which might surprise Afghanistan while George Dockrell will play a crucial role as spin is expected to play its part in the series. Boyd Rankin, Peter Chase and Joshua Little is the pace-bowling trio in the team.
Probable XI: Paul Stirling (c), Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbirnie, Stuart Thompson, Shane Getkate, Stuart Poynter, Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Joshua Little, Boyd Rankin, Peter Chase.
Focus will be on
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
No wonder the crowd will fill the stadium to watch Rashid Khan play. He has been the superstar and is in the groove having recently played in the Big Bash League (BBL) for the Adelaide Strikers. A lot of onus will be on him in the series opener to lead from the front and even Ireland will be wary of him. Rashid is also known to wield his willow if required and will be key to how Afghanistan performs on this tour.
Paul Stirling (Ireland)
Paul Stirling knows how difficult it is to tour sub-continent. Afghanistan are a team to beat in these conditions and Stirling will have to lead from the front. While his batting at the top of the order will be crucial, his captaincy will also be tested when it comes to stopping the likes of Zazai and Nabi from scoring quick runs. This tour will be a stern test at the helm for him.
Head to Head
Matches – 5 | Afghanistan won – 4 | Ireland – 1 | NR/Tie – 0
16 – Afghanistan have won each of their previous 16 T20Is in Asia. The winning streak began with a famous win over Windies in 2016 World T20.
968 – Samiullah Shenwari has scored 968 runs in the T20I format in 60 matches and needs only 32 runs to cross the four-figure mark.
TV – DSport
Match Timings – 18:30 IST and local