Afghanistan thrash Ireland in Stormont to level ODI series

Paul Stirling makes another 50 but Gulbadin Naib bowls World Cup outfit to victory

Paul Stirling made another half century in Stormont. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Paul Stirling made another half century in Stormont. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Afghanistan 305-7 off 50 overs (M Shahzad 101, R Shah 62, M Adair 3-71) beat Ireland 179ao off 41.2 overs (P Stirling 50, G Naib 6-43) by 126 runs.

A century from opener Mohammad Shahzad and career-best figures from captain Gulbadin Naib saw Afghanistan overrun Ireland in game two of the GS Holdings ODI Challenge at Stormont on Tuesday, leaving the series result level on one win apiece.

After Ireland captain William Porterfield won the toss and sent the visitors into bat, the Afghans looked determined to wipe away Sunday’s under-par batting display. Mohammad Shahzad (101 from 88 balls) led the charge, with Rahmat Shah hitting 62. The pair shared a 150-run partnership for the second wicket before Andy McBrine removed both batters within the space of four balls in the 32nd over.

Sensing a way back into the game, the Irish bowlers began to slow the run rate until Hashmatullah Shahidi (47) and Najibullah Zadran (60*) came together and shared a 86-run stand for the 6th wicket in 53 balls.

The Afghans lost two wickets in the final over, however by then the damage was done and the visitors had compiled 305-7 from their 50 overs. This was their third highest total in ODIs. For the home side, Mark Adair picked up 3-71 and McBrine 2-43.

Ireland’s response started confidently with Paul Stirling hitting two boundaries in the first over, but the loss of James McCollum (3) and Andy Balbirnie (20) set the home side back.

Stirling continued to hit out, bringing up a run-a-ball half-century which included four fours and two sixes, before falling soon after - caught on the deep square leg boundary. This was the fourth consecutive innings Stirling has passed 50, with 77, 130, 71 and 50 being his last four completed innings.

After Stirling’s dismissal the run rate dried up and regular wickets fell, with only Gary Wilson (34) and Porterfield (19) looked like getting to grips with the bowling. Ireland eventually succumbed for 179 in the 42nd over, giving Afghanistan a 126-run win and a drawn series result.

For the Afghans, captain Gulbadin Naib claimed career-best figures of 6-43, his first five-wicket haul in ODI cricket.

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