Belfast : An impressive bowling performance from Ireland set up their five-wicket win over Afghanistan to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match T20I series. The hosts limited the visitors to 122/8 in 20 overs, with four bowlers taking two wickets each and ensured Afghanistan’s batting never gathered any serious momentum.
In reply, Ireland briefly tumbled in the middle overs of their chase, falling from 72/1 to 86/4. But George Dockrell held his nerve with an unbeaten 19-ball 25 to secure victory.
After Afghanistan chose to bat first, Mark Adair took a wicket on the first ball of second over as Rahmanullah Gurbaz found the hands of Barry McCarthy to depart for 1.
Josh Little then bowled Usman Ghani in the next over to leave Afghanistan at 20/2. Ibrahim Zadran hit three boundaries off McCarthy’s first over. But Curtis Campher struck from the final ball of the sixth over as Zadran’s flick was snapped by Andrew McBrine sprinting from deep midwicket to complete an excellent catch.
Campher struck from his next over as Najibullah Zadran fell. Then all-rounder Mohammad Nabi was the next man to go, holing out to Dockrell at long-on for 9 off Gareth Delany’s leg-spin.It was followed by Afghanistan’s biggest partnership of the innings, as Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai put on 30 runs.
But Delany struck again as Shahidi’s reverse sweep found McBrine at backward point. Afghanistan failed to find firepower at the end of the innings as just 26 runs came off the last five overs.
Joshua Little (2/18), Adair (2/12) and Delany (2/19) put the finishing touches to a fine Irish bowling display.Paul Stirling departed early in the chase, falling to Naveen-ul-Haq.
But Andrew Balbirnie motored along, driving Rashid Khan through the covers and swept Mujeeb Ur Rahman for six. But Mujeeb eventually got his revenge, dismissing Balbirnie for 46 off 36 balls to leave Ireland at 72/2.
Nabi struck twice in the 14th over, sending Harry Tector (5) and Lorcan Tucker (27) back to the dressing room. But Dockrell eased Irish nerves and kept calm even as Campher was dismissed for seven in the 17th over.
He fittingly finished off the chase on the final ball of the 19th over, depositing Fazalhaq Farooqi for six to give Ireland their second win of the week.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 122/8 in 20 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 36; Mark Adair 2/12, Curtis Campher 2/13) lost to Ireland 125/5 in 19 overs (Andrew Balbirnie 46, George Dockrell 25 not out; Mohammad Nabi 2/15, Naveen-ul-Haq 1/12) by five wickets.