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by Alastair Symondson Friday 1 March 2019
Batting first, Ireland got off to a shaky start. They kept losing wickets and the slide continued till the team was 69-6 after which George Dockrell stuck around a bit for his 37. But there was no other batter who could hang around along with Paul Stirling who waged a lone battle and scored 89 from 150 deliveries. It was due to his effort that Ireland came close to playing the full 50 overs.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Dawlat Zadran picked up three wickets each while Gulbadin Naib bagged two wickets.
Instead of playing their natural game, Afghanistan openers Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai started their innings sensibly and stitched together a 43-run partnership after which Zazai became a bit restless and perished in an attempt to hit boundaries. Gulbadin Naib contributed with the bat as well and scored 46 runs. The chase succeeded in the 42nd over as Afghanistan won by five wickets.
Boyd Rankin was the leading bowler for Ireland and helped reduce Afghanistan from 90-1 at one point to 104-4. He would continue to lead Ireland's bowling along with spinner Simi Singh. It would require a special effort from Ireland to bounce back in the 2nd ODI.
Let's have a look at the probable playing XI of both teams.
Afghanistan- Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawlat Zadran
Ireland- William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Simi Singh, James McCollum, George Dockrell, Stuart Poynter, Kevin O Brien, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin, Barry McCarthy
Who will win? – Afghanistan
Top Batsman (Runs Scored) –Paul Stirling (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 280+, Afghanistan 230 +
*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