Ireland beaten by the rain (and Afghanistan) in the 1,000th match
Ireland Men’s cricket team has been defeated by Afghanistan in the first T20 International after rain cut short an entertaining match at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex, Greater Noida today.
In what represented the 1,000th match for an Irish men’s team, captain Andrew Balbirnie won the toss and elected to make first use of a decent batting wicket. Opening pair Paul Stirling (60 from 41 balls) and Kevin O’Brien (35 from 17 balls) put on a 63-run opening stand from the first six overs to give the visitors a good launch pad. Stirling’s half-century was his 18th in T20I cricket – his 10th since the start of 2019 - and came from 38 balls, including 8 fours and 2 sixes.
Balbirnie (29) and Stirling then contributed a busy 48-run partnership, before a cluster of middle order wickets slowed the Irish progression.
A late innings of 29* from 17 balls from Harry Tector helped Ireland post a defendable total of 172-6.
For Afghanistan, the world’s number one ranked T20I bowler Rashid Khan finished with 3-22 from 4 overs.
In response, the Afghan openers came quickly out of the gates. Hazratullah Zazai (23 off 15 balls) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28 off 13 balls) brought up their sides first 50 in four overs, before Simi Singh struck twice in the 5th over – and followed it up with a run out in the 6th – to have the Afghans 55-3.
A fourth wicket fell – another run out – shortly after and the momentum of the game had swung back to Ireland.
However, the middle-order pair of Samiullah Shinwari (28) and Najibullah Zadran (42*) rescued the Afghan batting line up and pushed the score on with counter-attacking play. Zadran was particularly aggressive with 3 fours and 2 sixes in his 21-ball unbeaten innings.
On the last ball of the 15th over Boyd Rankin struck by removing Shinwari leaving the game poised at the Afghans requiring 40 from 30 balls with 5 wickets in hand. However, Rankin’s wicket was the last action seen on the field as rain then ensued and the match was abandoned. The Afghan side was narrowly ahead of the DLS par score and were declared victors by 11 runs.
The second match of the T20I series will be on Sunday 8 March 2020, starting at 8.30am (GMT) at the same venue. For fans in Ireland and the UK, the second match will again be livestreamed.
Afghanistan v Ireland, 1st T20 International, Greater Noida, 6 March 2020
Ireland 172-6 (20 overs; P Stirling 60, K O’Brien 35; R Khan 3-22)
Afghanistan 133-5 (15 overs; N Zadran 42*; S Singh 2-18)
Afghanistan won by 11 runs (DLS method)