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Ireland lose to Afghanistan in Desert T20 opener

Ireland suffered a five-wicket defeat to Afghanistan in their opening Desert T20 match in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Paul Stirling top-scored with 25 in a 36-run partnership with stand-in opener Stuart Poynter (18), but Gary Wilson (23) was the only other batsman to pass 20 as the Irish stuttered to 125 for six.

Afghanistan's spin trio of Mohammad Nabi, Amir Hamza and Rashid Khan did the damage with two wickets apiece.

Najeeb Tarakai (31) and Mohammad Shahzad (29) then put Afghanistan firmly in control with an opening stand of 54.

Jacob Mulder gave Ireland hope with the quickfire wickets of Shahzad and captain Ashgar Stanikzai (six), and the run-out of Tarakai by Josh Little was followed by two more swift departures to leave Afghanistan wobbling on 99 for five.

But the experienced Nabi (26 not out) saw his team over the line, clubbing two crucial sixes to make sure of the victory with eight balls to spare.

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