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Ireland fall short in run chase in 2nd T20I defeat to Afghanistan

Ireland fall short in run chase in 2nd T20I defeat to Afghanistan
©Cricket Ireland

The Ireland Men’s cricket team have lost its seventh straight T20I match against Afghanistan by being dismissed for 79, falling 81 runs short of the target in the second T20I of the series against Afghanistan today.

Afghanistan 160-8 (20 overs; H Zazai 82, A Afghan 37; P Chase 3-35, B Rankin 2-14)

Ireland 79 (15 overs; G Wilson 33, W Porterfield 22; R Khan 4-17, M Ur Rahman 3-17)

Result - Afghanistan won by 81 runs

Heavy rain overnight threatened to delay the start of play, but ground staff worked well drying the outfield and play was underway on time.

Afghanistan’s captain Asghar Afghan won the toss and chose to bat first – a decision that looked to backfire early with Ireland’s bowlers removing Mohammad Shahzad and Samiullah Shenwari both for one, leaving Afghanistan at 8-2.

However, the momentum turned when the 20-year old Afghan opener Hazratullah Zazai, who scored 74 runs off 33 balls in the last match, was joined by his captain and the pair put on 116 runs in 96 balls. Zazai again looked to be the aggressor smashing six fours and seven sixes in an innings of 82 runs from 54 balls.

Just when the Afghans looked to be threatening a score around 200, Ireland’s bowlers struck back claiming both Zazai and Asghar in consecutive balls. Like the first match, wickets tumbled regularly in the latter overs which restricted the run rate. Ireland’s bowling unit took 5-36 in the last four overs and Afghanistan ended on 160-8 - the same total they made in the first match.

For Ireland, Peter Chase claimed 3-35, while local star Boyd Rankin – playing at Bready for the first time at any level of the game – took a miserly 2-14 from his four overs.

Needing 161 for victory, Ireland lost crucial early wickets, including talisman Paul Stirling for 2 and the in-form Andrew Balbirnie for a duck.

At 9-3, captain Gary Wilson and former T20I captain William Porterfield restored some batting pride with a 37-run partnership in just over five overs, however after Porterfield went for 33 (23 balls; 2 x fours, 2 x sixes) the Irish batting fell apart. Wilson tried once more to play the anchor role, but when he was dismissed for 22 the end was in sight.

Rashid Khan, the number one bowler in world T20I cricket, once again was used as a weapon in the latter overs and claimed 4-17 from his three overs. The 17-year old Mujeeb Ur Rahman also bowled with efficiency taking 3-17 off his four overs.

Despite a massive six late on off the bowling of Rashid Khan by Rankin, the crowd had little to cheer and Ireland were eventually dismissed for 79 off the last ball of the 15th over.

Speaking after the match, Gary Wilson was asked if the toss was a crucial factor:

“I don’t think when you lose by 81 runs you can point to the toss. Perhaps if you have a 20 run loss or a 10 run loss you could have said batting second was the harder dig. We would’ve batted had we won the toss, as early on was the best time to bat.”

“The boys will be hurting in there and know that that’s not good enough. When we all come to practice tomorrow I’ll expect everyone to be back up and giving 100%.”

Hometown star Boyd Rankin said:

“At half-time I was saying it was probably about par score. We could have restricted them to 130-140 if we bowled a little better. Our plans were to get Zazai early, but that hasn’t happened the last two games. I think we contained him pretty well in the first six but obviously we didn’t get him out.

“We needed to get off to a good start, but didn’t get that losing three early wickets. Once that happened it makes it difficult for the lads coming in with the run rate climbing. It was one of those days where we kept losing wickets and never got a partnership going.”

“I think it will be good to come back and get a win in that final T20 on Friday going into the one-day internationals next week – it’ll give us a bit of confidence. It was close on Monday, but it was their day today – that seems to be the way T20s go, but hopefully we can come back and put it right on Friday.”

“[Playing at Bready] was obviously really special for me. It was touch-and-go playing here, but it was very nice to be able to play my first proper game here and it was good to get a good crowd at home.”

Ireland and Afghanistan will return to Bready on Friday for the third of three T20Is in the current series.

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