Afghanistan has defeated Ireland in Stormont with 29 runs in the first game of the series. Hashmatullah Shahidi and Gulbadin Naib made 54 and 64 each and took the total to 227-9. However, Ireland on the other side was all down at 198 despite the play of Gary Wilson’s 38 and Andrew Balbirnie’s 55.
The second match of the three-game series will be held on Wednesday in Belfast. Both the sides in recent years had various contest in the ODI formats, with Ireland in last December winning a 2-1 win in Sharjah.
While batting first, Afghanistan seemed ready for a more challenging total before Gulbadin departed with the call for LBW bowled by Boyd Rankin. Murtagh took three wickets in just two overs in which all were collected by Balbirnie.
Niall O’Brien was sent back by a brilliant piece of fielding by Hashmatullah Shahidi at short mid-wicket, while Ireland batsmen were in approach for the third run. Similarly, Kevin O’Brien also returned to the pavilion after getting run out while trying for a third before Ireland lost the last four wickets in 19 runs.
At present Afghanistan appears to be much more accomplished in T20 formats in contrast to Ireland. However, both the teams have shown a great sport in the recent battles in 50 over format. Moreover, two years back, the Afghans had a pleasing season with 2-2 series draw at Belfast along with a 3-2 win in India in March of last year. Irish side lifted the trophy at Sharjah with a win of 2-1 in last fall.
One of the talented heads in Afghan side, Rashid Khan, has managed to take 27 wickets in last two years against Ireland. The bowling side has been fortified with the inclusion of pacers Wafadar Momand and Sayed Shirzad.