Kevin O'Brien stars as Ireland level series with tense chase

Kevin O'Brien picked four wickets and scored unbeaten 72 as well
Kevin O'Brien picked four wickets and scored unbeaten 72 as well
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Ireland 224-7 (O'Brien 72no) beat
Afghanistan 220 (O'Brien 4-26) by three wickets
Fourth One-Day International in Greater Noida

Kevin O'Brien made a grand comeback as he slammed an unbeaten 72 and also picked four wickets as Ireland went on to defeat Afghanistan by three wickets in the fourth One-Day International in Greater Noida to level the series 2-2.

Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat first. O'Brien (4-26) opened the bowling for Ireland and accounted for the wickets of Mohammad Shahzad (1), Usman Ghani (3) and Rahmat Shah (0) early to leave Afghanistan reeling at 11 for three.

Asghar Stanikzai (35) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (23) staged a recovery with their 46-run stand but a double strike from Jacob Mulder (3-57) and Andy McBrine (2-39) dented Afghanistan's hope further and were reduced to 83 for seven.

Just as they were in a danger of getting dismissed under 100, Mohammad Nabi (41), Shafiqullah (42) and Dawlat Zadran (41 not out) provided valuable contributions in the lower order to help Afghanistan post 220 before they were bowled out in the penultimate delivery of the innings.

O'Brien, Mulder and McBrine shared nine wickets between them for Ireland.

Ireland got to a decent start in the chase after Paul Stirling (28) and Ed Joyce (24) added 48 runs from 57 deliveries. However, a double strike from Nabi (4-30) and a wicket for Gulbadin Naib (1-28) saw both the openers and William Porterfield (6) dismissed in quick succession.

O'Brien (72 not out) had a thigh injury and had to retire hurt in the 20th over. Andy Balbirnie (22) and Gary Wilson (41) made valiant contributions but with Nabi and Rashid Khan (2-50) striking at regular intervals, Ireland found themselves in deep trouble at 130 for six when O'Brien decided to return back.

On his return, O'Brien switched gears as the boundaries kept coming and completed a 48-ball fifty. He shared a 66-run partnership with Wilson before the latter holed out to deep midwicket to give Rashid his second wicket.

However, O'Brien ensured he single-handedly completed the chase in 46.5 overs with three wickets in hand. O'Brien also bagged the player of the match award while Ireland went on to level the series 2-2.

© Cricket World 2017