A second series win in a year against Ireland will be on Afghanistan minds when the teams take the field in the second One-Day International in Sharjah on Thursday (December 7). Afghanistan, ranked 10th in the charts, had sealed a comprehensive 138-run win on Tuesday in the first game of the three-match series, courtesy an impressive bowling performance from Mujeeb Zadran, the debutant offspinner.
Afghanistan had put up 238 for 9 in 50 overs with half-centuries from Rahmat Shah and Nasir Jamal, and a handy knock of 48 from Rashid Khan. The Irish batsmen, without the services of Ed Joyce, faltered against the wiles of Mujeeb and Rashid, who picked up seven wickets between them. They were bowled out unceremoniously for 100, their fifth-lowest ODI total.
Mujeeb, 16, finished with 4 for 24, equalling the best effort by an Afghanistan bowler on debut — Shapoor Zadran had returned like figures against Netherlands in 2009. The double threat of Mujeeb and Rashid, the legspinner, was so potent that only William Porterfield (35), Stuart Poynter (27) and George Dockrell (10) were able to reach double-digits.
It is how well the Irish cope with the two spinners that will decide if they are able to push the series to a decider. The onus will be on the experienced batsmen at the top, with William Porterfield, the captain, and Paul Stirling in the forefront, and for the likes of Andrew Balbirnie and O’Brien brothers Kevin and Niall to lead the way.
The shining light of Ireland’s crushing defeat was the performance of their bowlers, with Boyd Rankin picking up four wickets and Tim Murtagh three. Afghanistan will be quietly confident of their chances after their muscular display in the previous match, and Ireland will have to step up their game if they are to arrest a modest recent run across formats against their opponents.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Javed Ahmadi, Ihsanullah Janat, Nasir Jamal, Rahmat Shah, Shafiqullah Shafiq (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Amir Hamza, Zahir Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Shapoor Zadran
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O’Brien (wk), Simi Singh, Gary Wilson, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, George Dockrell, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin, John Anderson, Barry McCarthy, Peter Chase, Jacob Mulder