Afghanistan dominate Ireland in final ODI to claim series win

Having narrowly lost the first ODI, and seen the second washed out, Ireland was looking to level the series in its third and final match.

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Ireland Cricket. (Photo Source: X(Twitter/Ireland Cricket)

The spin duo of experienced Mohammad Nabi (5-17) and 19-year-old debutant Nangeyalia Kharote (4-30) were the eventual stars with the ball for the hosts, who successfully defended their 237-run target by bowling Ireland all-out for 119 in 35 overs. Nabi had earlier made a crucial 48 with the bat before going on to claim the best figures of his international career.

Having narrowly lost the first ODI, and seen the second washed out, Ireland was looking to level the series in its third and final match before three T20Is begin later in the week. Paul Stirling called correctly at the toss once again, opting to bowl first and naming one change to his side from the opening fixture, Barry McCarthy replacing Craig Young.

It was McCarthy who struck the first blow, removing opener Ibrahim Zadran (22) to end a 62-run partnership with Rahmanullah Gurbaz (51). That sparked a flurry of wickets, Afghanistan swiftly falling from 62-0 to 96-4. 

A fifth-wicket recovery ensued, however, as the wise-heads of Afghan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (69) and Nabi shared a 97-run stand until the latter picked out Harry Tector at long-on off the bowling of Theo van Woerkom. Adair (3-51) and McCarty (2-42) delivered well-executed spells at the death to limit Afghanistan to 236-9 from their 50 overs.

Andrew Balbirnie fell early in the reply, but Stirling (50) and Curtis Campher (43) soon steadied the ship. Stirling had registered his highest score as captain in ODIs reaching a run-a-ball half-century - an innings that included four boundaries and two sixes. However, he was caught at long-off three balls later off the bowling of Nabi.

That ended a 73-run partnership for the second wicket which took Ireland to 77-2 halfway through the 18th over and with 160 runs required for victory. At that stage Ireland were still firmly in the contest, until Nabi and Kharote took a grip on proceedings.

Nabi accounted for both Tector and Lorcan Tucker in swift succession, five days after the pair made 138 and 85, respectively, at the same venue. Kharote had Campher caught behind soon after, went on to bowl George Dockrell and then trap Adair leg-before-wicket in a superb spell of bowling that left Ireland stunned.

Nabi completed a maiden five-wicket haul in international cricket with a beauty that cleaned-up Andy McBrine and the series was wrapped up when McCarthy suffered the same fate at the hands of Kharote. The two teams now play three T20Is at the same venue, starting Friday, 15 March.

MATCH SUMMARY

Afghanistan v Ireland, 2nd ODI, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates -- 12 March 2024

Afghanistan 236-9 (50 overs; H Shahidi 69, R Gurbaz 51, M Nabi 48; M Adair 3-51, B McCarthy 2-42)

Ireland 119-10 (35 overs; P Stirling 50, C Campher 43; M Nabi 5-17, N Kharote 4-30) 

Afghanistan won by 117 runs

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