ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018 - Super Sixes Match 9 - Ireland v Afghanistan - Preview
Game: 9th Match, Super Sixes, Ireland v Afghanistan
Venue: Harare Sports Club, Harare
Timings: 07:30 AM GMT / 09:30 AM Local
The victory of United Arab Emirates over Zimbabwe has given a lifeline to both Ireland and Afghanistan with the winner in the final game of the round in Harare having all to play for as they will join Windies in the qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
Afghanistan had an indifferent start to the season and barely managed to make it to the Super Six following defeats to Scotland, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe in the group stage but Nepal did them a huge favour when they defeated Hong Kong which meant they progressed to the Super Six with just one win but a better net-run-rate. However, with teams like Windies, Zimbabwe and Scotland entering the Super Sixes undefeated, Afghanistan was hoping for a miracle to keep them in contention to the play-off and they did themselves a favour with wins over Windies and UAE and now face Ireland in another must-win encounter.
The return of Asghar Stanikzai has released the pressure on Rashid Khan, who claimed a five-wicket haul in the previous game. Even though he did not contribute with the bat, his experience of leading the side will be a major boost. Fifties from Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran shows the depth of the batting line-up while Rahmat Shah has been consistent throughout the tournament.
Ireland's campaign was put off a bit when they lost to Zimbabwe by 107 runs but their win over Scotland kept them in contention for a top-two finish. Without doubt, they will once again rely heavily on openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling along with Andy Balbirnie to see them through against a quality Afghanistan bowling attack.
The pacers Boyd Rankin, Barry McCarthy and Tim Murtagh have all been impressive but they will be expecting more from their spin attack especially Andy McBrine, who has managed to keep George Dockrell out.
Head to Head Record: The two teams have played each other 16 games with Ireland winning nine and Afghanistan winning seven matches.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Gulbadin Naib, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Javed Ahmadi, Ihsanullah Janat, Nasir Jamal, Shapoor Zadran, Afsar Zazai
Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O Brien (wk), Kevin O Brien, Simi Singh, Gary Wilson, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, James Shannon
© Cricket World 2018