Afghanistan vs Ireland, 3rd ODI, Preview: Visitors pray to stay alive after rain-marred contest
A loss for Porterfield's men would see the hosts take an unassailable lead.
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The previous ODI against Ireland was one such instance when rain ensured that Afghanistan’s seven-match winning streak in Dehradun came to an end. However, the team, captained by Asghar Afghan, is yet to lose any international contest at the venue and based on that the hosts would undoubtedly enter the third ODI of the series to be played tomorrow as the firm favourites.
Their batting has been of the highest quality, especially with the likes of Hazratullah Zazai striking form in the hour of need. Afghanistan have won four encounters against the Irishmen on this tour and in all instances, they hardly allowed the opposition to dictate terms. The pitches have helped the spinner and the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan have been able to cash in.
If they manage to win the next game, the Afghans would also take an unassailable lead in the series and that would be a massive morale-booster for them going into the World Cup. Ireland, on the other hand, haven’t been able to gauge the conditions and hence have floundered at various stages of their previous game. Needless to say that it’s a do-or-die scenario for William Porterfield’s men.
The home team has a 21-member squad, but they would most probably carry on with their winning combination. Ahmadi and Zazai are the openers with Shah and Shahidi at three and four. The skipper will come lower down the order with the experience of Nabi to follow. Naib is no mug with the bat either. Ikram Ali Khil is likely to be persisted with as he didn’t get a chance to show his skills last time.
Javed Ahmadi, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan (C), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Ikram Ali Khil (WK), Sayed Shirzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Ireland may bring in pacer Barry McCarthy in place of left-arm spinner James Cameron-Dow, who went for quite a few last time. McCarthy would share the pace attack with Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh. The likes of Porterfield and Stirling need to give their team a good start. The middle order will be put to test against the tweakers. The onus would also be on Dockrell and Singh to put up a decent show.
William Porterfield (C), Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Andy McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Simi Singh, Stuart Poynter (WK), George Dockrell, Tim Murtagh, Barry McCarthy, Boyd Rankin.
Focus will be on
Hazratullah Zazai- Afghanistan
The 20-year-old hulk-like left-hander churned out his highest ODI score of 67 in the last match. He didn’t mind taking the aerial route inside the fielding restrictions. However, he got out in the 16th over to spinner Andy McBrine. Had he carried on, Afghanistan would have gotten to a more formidable score. It’s pretty imperative for Ireland to get him out early in the innings.
Tim Murtagh- Ireland
The 37-year-old from Lambeth, London has a truckload of experience in the English domestic circuit and he has been a prolific wicket-taker for Ireland in limited-overs cricket as well. But he went wicketless in the last two encounters. Despite not being in impressive form, his team would be looking up to him for some much-needed early breakthroughs with the new ball.
Head to Head
Matches – 22 | Afghanistan won – 11 | Ireland won – 10 | N/R- 1
196 – Rashid Khan needs only four wickets to complete the double century of his international wickets.
TV – DSport
Match Timings – 13:00 IST and local