Twitter Reactions: Paul Stirling's 128 goes in vain as Afghanistan take 2-0 lead courtesy of Rahmat Shah's 103*

Twitter Reactions: Paul Stirling’s 128 goes in vain as Afghanistan take 2-0 lead courtesy of Rahmat Shah’s 103*

A staggering 184-run stand between centurion Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi killed every chance for an Irish victory.

Rahmat Shah
Rahmat Shah. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Afghanistan went 2-0 up in the three-match series against Ireland, winning the second ODI at Abu Dhabi by 7 wickets. It was a sensational effort of 128 off 132 from Paul Stirling that guided Ireland to 259/9 after they opted to bat first. However, solid knocks from Rahmat Shah (103 from 109) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (82 from 100) meant that the host clinched the game by 7 wickets and 28 balls to spare.

Having lost their two crucial top-order batsmen – Mujeeb ur Rahman got Kevin O’Brien caught in the first slip before trapping skipper Andy Balbirnie cheaply – Ireland were struggling to find their feet at 20/2. Stirling, who hit 12 fours and four sixes in his 128-run knock, then began repairing the innings alongside Harry Tector, who scored 24 from 58 without a single boundary, before driving Naveen ul Haq to midwicket.

Paul Stirling powers Ireland to 259

After the end of the 84-run Stirling-Tector partnership, Curtis Campher joined forces with Stirling, adding 106 for the fourth wicket at a healthy pace (103 balls) and tackling the Afghanistan spinners to good effect. His outing lasted 52 balls, and he fell only three short of a deserving half-century after he picked the fielder at extra cover off Rashid Khan in the 42nd over.

Meager contributions came from Lorcan Tucker (17 from 19) and Simi Singh (13 from 11), however, Ireland failed to boost themselves to a score beyond Afghanistan’s reach as Naveen ul Haq, who picked four wickets in all, wrapped up the tail alongside Mujeeb ur Rahman, after he dismissed centurion Paul Stirling in the 45th over.

Shah and Shahidi lead from the front 

Afghanistan made a quick start as the opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz followed his century on debut with a brisk 31 from 26, including a couple of sixes and three fours. He added 44 with opener Javed Ahmadi before Barry McCarthy and Curtis Campher struck in successive overs, pinning both the batsmen LBW to leave Afghanistan 48 for 2.

Ireland must have sensed a chance after the double blows, although a staggering 184-run stand between centurion Rahmat Shah, whose 103-run knock included 10 boundaries and two sixes, and Hashmatullah Shahidi, who scored 82 from 100 with 8 fours and a six, killed every chance for an Irish victory.

Shah was sublime during his knock, and he managed the chase well by hitting boundaries often apart from ensuring the regular and unrestricted rotation of strike. The Ireland bowlers were guilty of not bowling as per the field, letting the left-handed Shahidi, who was drafted into the eleven at the expense of an all-rounder, score runs at a decent pace.

The match-sealing stand was broken by Simi Singh in the 42nd over, when Shahidi top-edged a delivery that was slightly tossed up by the spinners, straight to Craig Young stationed at midwicket. Taking barely any time thereafter, skipper Asghar Afghan rushed to a 13-ball 21, hitting Barry McCarthy for a couple of sixes and a four in the 45th over.

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