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Defeated Ireland have final chance

 

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On target: Ireland’s James Cameron-Dow after taking wicket of Gulbadin Naib yesterday

On target: Ireland’s James Cameron-Dow after taking wicket of Gulbadin Naib yesterday

On target: Ireland’s James Cameron-Dow after taking wicket of Gulbadin Naib yesterday

Ireland must win the last game of the one-day international series against Afghanistan tomorrow to avoid a 3-1 defeat after a careless batting display condemned them to a 109 runs defeat yesterday.

It was hard to believe watching the action unfold that this was the same Ireland side that had chased 257 to level the five-match series just three days earlier. Yesterday, William Porterfield was lucky enough to win the toss and saw his bowlers perform heroically again to reduce Afghanistan to 81-6 inside 18 overs.

The 'home side' recovered - as they have done so often before - to total 223 but Ireland had the satisfaction of bowling them out for only the 10th time in 24 ODIs. History was on Ireland's side, having won seven of the previous nine, and surely the momentum of Tuesday's success.

But no. From 31-0, they slumped to 34-3 in the space of eight balls and although Kevin O'Brien stayed firm at one end, he faced 57 balls but did not threaten the boundary once as the runs dried up and the wickets fell at the other end.

Indeed, James Cameron-Dow's defiant four off Rashid Khan in the 35th over was Ireland's first boundary since the 12th over. Three balls later it was all over as Mohammad Nabi trapped Boyd Rankin, the total of 114 their eighth lowest in an ODI.

Andrew Balbirnie's innings summed up Ireland's reply. After scoring 145 not out on Tuesday, 30 of which came off mystery spinner Mujeeb Zadran, including three sixes, he pushed forward at the first ball from the same bowler without any foot movement and offered a simple return catch, out for a duck.

Either side of that, Porterfield had hit three successive fours off pace man Aftab Alam - one of four changes in the Afghanistan side - but was, perhaps harshly, given out leg before next ball and Paul Stirling was stumped off Mujeeb as he lost his footing when playing the sweep shot.

All three proven performers will keep their place tomorrow but Simi Singh's must be in doubt. Still batting too high, at No 4, he hit Gulbadin for two fours but attempting to sweep Rashid, he lost his leg stump.

It was only the third time in 13 ODIs he had reached 20 and as he didn't bowl yesterday, James McCollum deserves to take his place for the final ODI.

George Dockrell could not repeat Tuesday's batting heroics either, dismissed for eight from 28 balls, and 82-4 became 96-9 with Stuart Poynter's miserable series with the bat continuing. Lorcan Tucker could play his first ODI tomorrow. Everyone expected Nabi and Rashid to cause problems with the ball but it was their batting exploits which proved just as crucial yesterday.

After their captain Asghar Afghan was run out by a direct throw from Dockrell, it was Nabi, with his highest score against Ireland, and Rashid, with his second half century, who put on a patient 86, just seven runs short of the eighth wicket record against Ireland.

Either side of that partnership, however, the bowlers were on top with Andy McBrine getting big-hitting Hazratullah Zazai for the second time in the series and following up with the wicket of teenager Ikram Ali Khil, thanks to a brilliant catch at slip by Balbirnie.

Tim Murtagh was grateful for a spectacular diving catch by Dockrell for his only wicket and Rankin, introduced in the 11th over, had Rahmat Shah caught behind.

But Ireland's best bowler was James Cameron-Dow and after getting a wicket with his second ball, he had the confidence and accuracy to finish with 3-32, including Tuesday's century-maker Najibullah. His Test debut now looks just a week away.

Scoreboard

AFGHANISTAN

Hazratullah Zazai b McBrine 14

Noor Ali c Dockrell b Murtagh 9

Rahmat Shah c Poynter b Rankin 15

Asghar Afghan run out 54

Ikram Ali Khil c Balbirnie b McBrine 1

Gulbadin Naib lbw b Cameron-Dow 1

Najibuallah c and b Cameron-Dow 10

Mohammad Nabi c Dockrell

b Cameron-Dow 64

Rashid Khan c Singh b Dockrell 52

Aftab Alam c Murtagh b Rankin 0

Mujeeb Zadran c Murtagh b Rankin 1

Extras (2w) 2

Total (49.1 overs) 223

Fall: 1-17 2-23 3-58 4-59 5-67 6-81 7-131 8-217 9-219

Bowling: T Murtagh 10-0-49-1, A McBrine 10-0-37-2, G Dockrell 9.1-1-55-1, B Rankin 10-0-50-2, J Cameron-Dow 10-0-32-3

IRELAND

W Porterfield lbw b Aftab 21

P Stirling st Ikram b Mujeeb 11

A Balbirnie c and b Mujeeb 0

S Singh b Rashid 20

K O'Brien b Aftab 26

G Dockrell b Gulbadin 8

S Poynter b Aftab 4

A McBrine c and b Rashid 1

J Cameron-Dow not out 7

T Murtagh b Aftab 0

B Rankin lbw b Nabi 9

Extras (3lb 4w) 7

Total (35.3 overs) 114

Fall: 1-31 2-32 3-33 4-66 5-82 6-90 7-96 8-96 9-96

Bowling: Mujeeb Zadran 8-0-25-2, Aftab Alam 8-2-25-4, Gulbadin Naib 6-0-21-1, Mohammad 7.3-1-18-1, Rashid Khan 6-0-22-2

Afghanistan won by 109 runs and lead five-match series 2-1.

Belfast Telegraph