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Irish skipper Porterfield dismisses calls to quit

By Ian Callender

William Porterfield has insisted he will continue to captain Ireland until he is officially told otherwise.

As the one-day international series against Afghanistan got off to a false start at Stormont yesterday - the first game was abandoned without a ball bowled - Porterfield said he felt under no pressure to continue in the job which he has held for the last eight years.

Trent Johnston, his predecessor as captain, is among those who have called for Porterfield to step down, especially in the Twenty20 format, to allow him to concentrate on his batting but the 31-year-old, who has scored two 50s for Ireland in 10 innings this year, is happy to continue in the hot seat.

"As long as I'm asked to do it, I love captaining Ireland," he said.

"If someone comes along I am not going to stand in his way and whatever decision is made I'm fine with it.

"But as long as I am performing for Ireland to the best of my ability, I am happy.

"Everyone can have their opinion, but I'm happy we can go out and put in big performances."

Since beating Zimbabwe at the World Cup finals in March 2015, Ireland have won only one of their eight completed one-day internationals and have lost their last four in the shortest format.

The two heavy defeats (by 76 runs and 136 runs) by Sri Lanka last month were a rude awakening for the skipper, having said he expected to win at least one of the matches, but he is again backing his under-strength squad to beat Afghanistan in what is now a four-match series, due to begin at Stormont tomorrow.

"We don't want to walk away from the series with anything but a win and, ideally, as convincing as possible," said Porterfield.

"We know all about the Afghanistan squad, they've been together for a while and we have played them a lot.

"They have a couple of youngsters, including a leg spinner, but generally they are all in their late 20s and early 30s so there's nothing we don't know about them and vice versa.

"We just have to go out and perform over 100 overs."

The teams have met 14 times since their first meeting in 2009 - Ireland lead 8-5 - but only three of them were ODIs and Afghanistan won the last, in Dubai in January last year.

Ireland, though, have only five survivors from that line-up - Afghanistan have eight - but Porterfield believes this is the sort of series where players can make their mark for a long career.

He said: "On paper it is our least experienced squad but the way Barry McCarthy came in (against Sri Lanka) and acquitted himself was great and that's what's expected of cricketers coming in these days because your debut could be against a Sri Lanka or a Pakistan, or even Afghanistan.

"Barry picked up two wickets in his first two overs and didn't seem fazed by the set-up and that's what we need around the squad. These five games are crucial to building up experience for the next few years."

Porterfield also confirmed that pace bowler Peter Chase will finally win his third cap tomorrow, two years after his last appearance, and he has backed Gary Wilson to get back among the runs.

"Willo scored a century for Surrey II last week and that will not do him any harm," said his captain.

"Hopefully this sets him off on a run. It's certainly not going to be through a lack of trying."

Following Mark Adair's withdrawal from the squad with a back injury - which will keep him out of action for another two weeks - Sean Terry is the only uncapped played in the squad, but as the reserve batsman, he will have to wait for his debut.

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