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Stirling, Balbirnie keep Ireland alive in series

Paul Stirling played another fabulous knock of 99 runs
Paul Stirling played another fabulous knock of 99 runs

Ireland 265-4 (Stirling 99) beat
Afghanistan 264-8 (Rashid 56) by six wickets
Third One-Day International in Greater Noida

Paul Striling and Andy Balbirnie scored 99 and an unbeaten 85 respectively as Ireland chased down 265 against Afghanistan to seal a six-wicket win in the third One-Day International in Greater Noida to remain alive in the series.

Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat first again. Peter Chase (2-55) struck in the third over to have Noor Ali Zadran (1) caught in the covers.

Chase continued his good form as in his next over, he had Mohammad Shahzad (11) caught in the slips while Tim Murtagh (2-49) and George Dockrell (1-40) struck in successive overs to account for Rahmat Shah (8) and Asghar Stanikzai (16) respectively to leave Afghanistan reeling at 46 for four at the end of 11th over.

With Samiullah Shenwari (20) and Mohammad Nabi (13) failing to make a significant contribution, Afghanistan found themselves in deep trouble at 97 for six.

However, Gulbadin Naib (51), Rashid Khan (56) and Shafiqullah (50 not out) helped them stage a recovery as they reached 264 for eight at the end of the 50 overs.

In the chase, Ireland lost Ed Joyce (12) and William Porterfield (1) early to Dawlat Zadran (2-52). In the 10th over bowled by Nabi (1-64), Stirling (99) was handed a reprieve when Shenwari (1-39) dropped him the boundary.

Afghanistan sloppiness in the field costed them dearly as they dropped two more catches and missed a run out as well. Stirling brought his half-century soon after bringing the 50-run stand with Niall O'Brien (30).

Shenwari broke the 96-run stand when he castled O'Brien following which Stirling and Balbirnie (85 not out) added another 59-run stand to put Ireland in course of a win.

Nabi handed a heartbreak as he castled Stirling, one short of a deserving century but Balbirnine ensured there were no further hiccups as he saw the team through the chase which they completed in 48.3 overs.

Stirling was awarded the man of the match for the second consecutive game as Ireland now trail the five-match series 2-1.

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