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Ire v Afg, 1st ODI Preview: Afghanistan aiming to carry on good form

Ireland
Ireland. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Following what was a marginally successful tour of Scotland, the Afghanistan team will move northward to face the intimidating Ireland in a 5-match ODI series. While the Afghans will certainly be on somewhat of a high following their win in the recently concluded series against Scotland, the Irish would certainly be marginally proud of themselves for giving the visiting Sri Lankans a run for their money. Due to this, it will be interesting to witness two of the giants on the associate nations’ roster take on each other in a head-on collision.

Pitch Conditions:

Having not seen much international cricket in almost 11 months, the Civil Service Cricket Club will certainly be in total readiness to host the first Ireland v Afghanistan ODI. However, given the history of the venue and the city of Belfast, it is almost guaranteed to rain. The wicket in the past has proven to be diabolical and unpredictable on certain occasions. However, with Afghanistan set to make their first tour to Ireland, it is entirely possible that a mouthwatering encounter is certainly on the cards.

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Team Analysis

Ireland

Ireland’s steady rise back into cricket’s elite was consummated by the return of Boyd Rankin into the fold. The tall and lanky right-arm pacer, who had somewhat of an unproductive stint with the England side will be hoping to make a mark as he begins his comeback to the Irish side. Although the Irish fared marginally well against the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka, they will certainly have a test on their hands when they face Afghanistan.

Apart from Rankin, another player looking to make his name is Kevin O’Brien. In spite of his exploits in T20 cricket, O’Brien’s One-Day record certainly looks short. However, being Ireland’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs, the 32-year old will be hoping for a good outing against the visiting Afghans.

Afghanistan

Similar to Ireland, Afghanistan are one of the teams who have had a lot of the spotlight courtesy of their rise in recent cricket. Under skipper Asghar Stanikzai, the Afghans have found themselves on what has been a trail of broken records. Evidence of which, can be found in the World T20 win over the West Indies earlier this year.

In Mohammad Shahzad, Afghanistan has a player who not only strikes the ball in an aggressive and brute manner, but also does not care about the conditions. Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan’s ‘MVP’ at the moment will also be raring to go in the upcoming IRE v AFG series.

Probable XI-

Ireland:

William Porterfield (C), Gary Wilson (WK), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, John Anderson, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin

Afghanistan:

Asghar Stanikzai (C), Mohammad Shahzad (WK), Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Najibulla Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Mirwais Ashraf, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran

StAttack:

1. Noor Ali Zadran requires 69 runs to complete 1000 runs in ODI cricket.

2. Mohammad Nabi is the highest run-getter in ODIs for Afghanistan. However, he is only 76 runs ahead of wicket-keepr batsman Mohammad Shahzad.

3. Shahzad also has the most number of boundaries to his name with 159. Moreover, Mohammad Nabi requires 9 boundaries to complete 100 boundaries in ODI cricket.

4. Shapoor Zadran requires 9 wickets to complete 50 wickets in ODI cricket. Should he accomplish this feat anytime during the two ODI series, he will become only the third bowler in Afghan cricket to do so.

5. Ireland have won two of their last three matches at Belfast. Afghanistan however, have never played at this venue.

6. Boyd Rankin requires 4 wickets to complete 50 wickets in ODI cricket.

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