Although both teams lost their first match, Afghanistan more comprehensively than Ireland, this would be a more fair representation as both teams are new to the five-day format and the competition is expected to be closer. Ireland would gain some confidence after levelling the ODI series 2-2.
As all the T20Is and ODIs have also been played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Dehradun, the pitch is expected to crumble - if the matches are being played on the same strip - quite rapidly and hence the spinners will play a huge role. There is no doubt in the fact that Afghanistan, laden with players like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, have much better acumen in that department.
Mohammad Shahzad and Javed Ahmadi will open the innings for Afghanistan. Mohammad Nabi is a class apart and would be a key figure both with the bat and ball.
William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O'Brien will be the leading batters for Ireland. O'Brien starred with knocks of 40 and 118 in his first two Test innings and would be expected to repeat his heroics.
George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin will bear the responsibility of the Irish bowling attack.
Afghanistan- Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan (c), Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Ali Khil/Sayed Shirzad, Rashid Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zahir Khan, Wafadar Momand
Ireland- William Porterfield (c), Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Simi Singh, Kevin O'Brien, George Dockrell, Stuart Poynter (wk), Andy McBrine, James Cameron-Dow, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin
Who will win? – Afghanistan
Top Batsman (Runs Scored) –William Porterfield (Ireland), Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
Top Bowler (Wickets taken) – Boyd Rankin (Ireland), Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Most Sixes – Paul Stirling (Ireland), Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan)
Team Scores Batting First – Ireland 300+, Afghanistan 340 +
*NB these predictions may be changed nearer the start of the match once the final starting teams have been announced and we will be running ‘In–Play’ features soon, so stay tuned.
© Cricket World 2019