Paul Stirling inspires Ireland to series win over Afghanistan

97-ball 101 helps Ireland chase down a target of 178 in 38 overs in final ODI in Sharjah

Paul Stirling’s century helped Ireland to a ODI series win over Afghanistan. Photograph: Nezar Balout/AFP

Paul Stirling’s century helped Ireland to a ODI series win over Afghanistan. Photograph: Nezar Balout/AFP

 

Paul Stirling’s 10th international century helped Ireland finish the year on a high as they beat Afghanistan by five wickets in Sharjah to complete a 2-1 series win.

Having lost the opening game after being bowled out for 100, Ireland have turned their form around, with the bowling and fielding again restricting Afghanistan in Sunday’s decider.

Having elected to bat first, Afghanistan were bowled out for just 177, with left-arm spinner George Dockrell taking four wickets for 28 after opening the bowling alongside Tim Murtagh.

The Leinster clubman included the dangerous Rahmat Shah in his haul, Boyd Rankin taking a catch at long-off to see off the batsman for 44 .

Shah’s dismissal left Afghanistan on 102 for four and they never recovered with Barry McCarthy again taking lower-order wickets to finish with figures of three for 32 to add to his five-wicket haul in the second game.

Ireland lost skipper William Porterfield after he had made just four but a 62-run stand between Stirling and his former Middlesex colleague Andrew Balbirnie got Ireland to 91 before Balbirnie went for 35.

Stirling, who hit 11 fours and four sixes in his 97-ball knock, also added 51 with Gary Wilson, who made 11, but fell with the finishing line in sight when he was trapped leg-before for 101 with Ireland just eight runs shy.

Tow boundaries from Kevin O’Brien secured the five-wicket win with 12 overs to spare.

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