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Ireland confirm dates for next March's clashes with Afghans

By Ian Callender

Following the drawn series at Stormont this month, Ireland have confirmed the dates of their reciprocal tour to Afghanistan next year.

The teams will play three T20 games and five ODIs ahead of their scheduled Intercontinental Cup match in a three-week stay in India.

Greater Nodia, a southern suburb of the Indian capital New Delhi, is the new home of Afghanistan Cricket and the stadium will host all nine games, starting with the T20 internationals on March 8, exactly 52 weeks after their defeat to Oman at the World T20 in India.

Ireland have not played a game in the shortest format since and, indeed, have only two scheduled before then, against Hong Kong in Bready on September 5 and 6.

The ODIs, to be played from March 15-24, could still be crucial in deciding ranking positions ahead of a World Cup qualifying tournament in 2018 and after the 2-2 draw in Belfast, Afghanistan remain ahead of Ireland.

The I-Cup match, on March 28-31, is likely to be Ireland's toughest game in the competition and by then William Porterfield's side will expect to have made it four wins out of four. They have maximum points from their first three games and the fourth of seven is against Hong Kong at Stormont, starting on August 30.

The only other games so far confirmed by Cricket Ireland this autumn and winter are ODIs against South Africa and Australia in Benoni at the end of September, but they are still hoping to immediately follow that with a tour of Zimbabwe. Discussions are currently ongoing.

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