Afghanistan vs Ireland, 2nd T20I Preview: Visitors hope to retaliate and level the series against a robust Afghan side

Afghanistan vs Ireland, 2nd T20I Preview: Visitors hope to retaliate and level the series against a robust Afghan side

Ireland will be relying on the strong opening duo of Stirling and O'Brien to propel them to a flying start.

Paul Stirling
Paul Stirling. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Irish side had an unfortunate start to their T20I series heist. Despite amassing a competitive total of 172 runs on the scoreboard, Andrew Balbirnie and Co. were suffered an 11-run defeat (DLS method) as Afghanistan amassed 133 runs in 15 overs.

After winning the toss and elected to bat first, Ireland was bolstered to a flying start by Paul Stirling’s 60-run knock. He was well assisted by Kevin O’Brien, who also smashed 35 off just 17 deliveries that included 4 fours and 2 sixes. Post the departure of top-order, it was Harry Tector who put his foot on the gas pedal and scored a quick-fire 29-run knock to steer his side to a formidable total of 172 runs. Considering their impressive batting exploits in the first T20I, Ireland seem well equipped with a strong batting force ahead of the T20 World Cup this year.

Coming on to Afghanistan’s run-chase, it was a rain-marred affair but it was Najibullah Zadran’s explosive 42-run knock which helped Ireland cross the line. Najibullah wreaked havoc on the Irish bowling force after coming down the order and smashed 42 off just 21 deliveries to turn the tide in his side’s favour. Ireland had to return to the pavilion with disappointment after Najibullah single-handedly steered Afghanistan to the victory from a point where they were reeling 70/4.

Ireland’s pursuit of thumping Afghanistan in a T20 International continued as rain played a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of the match. However, the Irish still have the chanced to redeem themselves and retaliate in the second T20I of the series and level the series. Considering their impressive batting display in the first match, it will be an uphill task for Afghanistan to curb the run-flow of Ireland.

Team Combination

Afghanistan

Afghanistan will be banking on the experience of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. Rashid proved his worth in the previous match by delivering a match-winning performance. After being introduced in the latter stage of the match, Rashid Khan made an instant impact and scalped three crucial wickets to dent Ireland’s run-flow. The opening duo of Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who stitched 51 runs for the opening wicket, will be hoping to propel their side to a robust start.

Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Karim Janat, Asghar Afghan (C), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Shapoor Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Ireland

Ireland will be relying on the strong opening duo of Stirling and O’Brien. Both the openers steered their side to a dominant 63-run opening start in the first T20I. Skipper Andrew Balbirnie is also expected to lead his side from the front. Harry Tector, who grabbed eyeballs in the previous T20I by smashing a quick-fire 29, will also be hoping to replicate his form. A hapless bowling force, which was evident in the first T20I, will be a matter for concern for the Irish side. Ireland have Smiranjit Singh, Joshua Little and veteran Boyd Rankin to steer their bowling force.

Probable XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbirnie (C), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker (WK), Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Craig Young, Joshua Little

Focus will be on

Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)

Mohammad Nabi, who is currently the No.1 ranked T20I all-rounder, will be aiming to deliver an all-round performance. Despite not dazzling in the previous match, Nabi has the potential to turn the tide in his side’s favour at any point of time. In a career spanning over 76 T20Is, he has amassed 1316 runs including four half-centuries. Nabi has also scalped 69 wickets in his T20I career.

Paul Stirling (Ireland)

Stirling has emerged as one of the vital cogs of Ireland’s batting force over the years. After making his T20I debut for Ireland in 2009, the 29-year-old has gathered 2112 runs in 76 T20Is at an impressive average of around 30. The right-hander also has 18 half-centuries under his belt. Along with his fellow opener Kevin O’Brien, Stirling will be anticipating to propel his side to a stable start.

Head to Head

Played – 17 | Afghanistan won – 13 | Ireland won – 3 | No result – 1

Stat Attack

18- Ireland’s Paul Stirling has amassed 18 half-centuries in a T20I career spanning over 75 matches.

5/3- Rashid Khan has the best bowling figures of 5/3 in 46 T20Is that he has played so far in his career.

Broadcast details:

Live streaming – rtasports.live.

Match timings – 2:00 pm IST, 2:00 pm local