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Ireland bring back Dockrell to put Afghanistan in a right spin

By Ian Callender

George Dockrell is the surprise replacement for the injured Mark Adair in the Ireland squad for the five-match series against Afghanistan, due to get under way tomorrow at Stormont (10.45am).

After a look at the Stormont square yesterday, coach John Bracewell decided the pitches are likely to take spin and has promoted the slow left armer into the squad from which he was dropped because of his poor form.

Graeme McCarter, left out of the original 14-man panel because he was unfit, and Max Sorensen both trained with the squad yesterday and, although overlooked, will remain on stand-by.

Despite Dockrell's recall, Ireland go into their most important one-day international series in years with their least experienced squad.

Half the players have less than 30 caps and at least three of tomorrow's likely starting line-up will still be in single figures.

Already without Niall O'Brien, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young, Boyd Rankin and Andrew Balbirnie, coach Bracewell and captain William Porterfield will have to decide whether to keep faith with Gary Wilson who has lost his place in the Surrey one-day squad and scored only 12 runs in the two ODIs against Sri Lanka last month.

Stuart Poynter is a certain starter after scoring 56 in the series - apart from Paul Stirling the only batsman to reach 20 in both games - and he can take over as wicket-keeper for the first time since the T20s against Scotland last summer.

That would give Ireland the option of bringing in both Tyrone Kane - with claims to be a genuine all-rounder - and Peter Chase, said by Bracewell when the squad was named to be the "logical replacement" for Rankin, to give Porterfield extra depth in the seam bowling department which has only Tim Murtagh and Barry McCarthy, who has just two caps, as strike bowlers.

The uncapped Sean Terry is the reserve batsman.

Afghanistan, who defeated Scotland by 78 runs on Wednesday, are ranked 10 points and two places above Ireland in the ODI table and only a 4-1 series win (3-1 if tomorrow's weather forecast comes true) will guarantee the teams swap places and give Ireland the bragging rights as the leading Associate nation and the momentum ahead of ODIs against Pakistan, South Africa and Australia in the next two months.

There are three Irish Senior Cup games in the NCU tomorrow to tempt fans away from Stormont, with holders Waringstown, CIYMS and Instonians all at home to North County, YMCA and Phoenix respectively.

Other Sunday fixture (11am): Women's Super 3s - Scorchers v Typhoons (Bready)

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