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Ireland return to ODI action after UAE get all clear



Harry Tector

Harry Tector

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Harry Tector

Ireland were due back in action this morning for the second time in three days after UAE were given permission to play the second one-day international.

The game had been postponed four times after four UAE players tested positive for Covid-19, and the entire squad was placed in quarantine. But yesterday, news came through that the series could resume in Abu Dhabi, 10 days after the first match which the hosts won by six wickets.

Not only will it give Ireland the chance to square the series but gives the squad the chance to get back to winning ways before they face Afghanistan in the first game of the three-match World Cup Super League series on Thursday.

An Afghanistan XI, without star spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran, won a hastily arranged warm-up game on Saturday by 23 runs as a full-strength Ireland side, with Craig Young and Barry McCarthy not batting, were bowled out for 241.

The match may have been 'unofficial' but it underlined the size of Ireland's task in the upcoming series as Afghanistan, in their first match action since their arrival in UAE 10 days ago, hit the ground running without their most dangerous bowlers.

There were still plenty of familiar names in the Agfhan line-up, including Mohammad Nabi who was one of Curtis Campher's three victims, but followed up with two wickets at a cost of just 22 runs in five overs, and Gulbadin Naib who claimed the big scalp of skipper Andrew Balbirnie and finished the match with the fourth ball of the final over, bowling Andy McBrine.

The match, however, was more about giving the batsmen time in the middle after a week without action and Balbirnie used nine bowlers, including Kevin O'Brien (five overs 0-20) which was only bettered for economy by Gareth Delany (three overs 0-11).

Ominously, the slow bowlers failed to take a wicket, despite all four, including Paul Stirling, being used for 16 overs while opening bowlers Young and Mark Adair shared three wickets but both went for more than seven runs an over.

A top four of Stirling, O'Brien, Balbirnie and James McCollum all reached 17 but not 20 and after another early dismissal for Lorcan Tucker, it was Harry Tector and Campher who upped the tempo in the middle overs, putting on 43 at a run-a-ball, before Adair came in at No 9 and thumped 39 off 34 balls with three fours and two sixes.

Today's game, which is live on Freesports, is Ireland's last chance to get it right and it will be interesting to see if Josh Little, the one notable absentee on Saturday, gets a chance to prove he can make the starting line-up on Thursday.

Scores: Afghanistan XI 264 (44.1 overs, Hashmatullah Shahidi 61, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 59, Najabullah 53; C Campher 3-31, B McCarthy 2-21, C Young 2-53) Ireland XI 241 (44.4 overs, H Tector 42, C Campher 39, M Adair 39; Sayed Shirzad 3-28, Sharafuddin 3-55).

Afghanistan won by 23 runs.

Belfast Telegraph