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Ireland vs Afghanistan 1st T20I Preview

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

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2018 has been a prosperous year for both Ireland and Afghanistan. Any time they are involved in cricketing action, it brings joy to me, just as a cricket fan, to see them giving their all.

Yes, Ireland suffered heartbreak not qualifying for the 2019 World Cup, suffering a five-wicket defeat to eventual World Cup participants Afghanistan in Zimbabwe earlier this year. But, they have made their Test debut, which will hopefully mean greater opportunities for them in the coming years.

In relation to this match, think Ireland have forgotten about the Super Sixes WCQ defeat to Afghanistan? Think again. Ireland coach Graham Ford believes that result and heartbreak will give his side “extra added incentive.” After a very difficult T20I series against India recently, Ireland will be keen to improve their 17th place ranking against a good Afghanistan side – can they hold a good account of themselves?

It’s been an even better year for Afghanistan. They too also made their Test debut, highlighting an absolutely incredible journey, as well as qualifying for the World Cup and sitting above Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the T20I rankings. Their journey towards the 2020 World T20 in Australia continues in Ireland, where they will be looking to continue their perfect run of results in 2018. Can they build on their five from five record?

Key to an Ireland win

Ireland were simply clueless against India’s wristspinners in their recent T20I series, losing 13 wickets to the spinners across the two games.
The good news is that series was short, but the bad news is that they welcome T20I’s number one ranked bowler Rashid Khan, as well as Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi. The spin test will continue, so can the Ireland batsmen pass the test they failed disappointingly against India?
Of course, India’s batting was too good for Ireland’s bowlers, racking up 208 and 213 in the two matches. Afghanistan’s batting, whilst respectable, doesn’t have the same class, so the Irish bowlers need to restrict Afghanistan as much as possible to reduce the pressure on the batting.

Key to an Afghanistan win

Despite conditions being quite alien to Afghanistan, a great opportunity presents their spinners against an Irish side smarting from their most recent T20I series.
The Afghans were simply magnificent in their 3-0 series win over Bangladesh in June, building so much pressure on the Bangladeshis through their spinners. A similar template can be used here, given Ireland struggle against quality spin, but Afghanistan need more from their seamers, who were expensive at times vs the Bangladeshis.
Also, a key factor to the result here is how Afghanistan’s batting will cope in these conditions, which will be cold with chances of rain. Will they be handle any movement on offer, as well as rotate the strike effectively to make full use of their boundaries?

Possible teams

Ireland possible XI: 1. Paul Stirling, 2 James Shannon, 3. Andy Balbirnie, 4. Simi Singh, 5. Kevin O’Brien, 6. Gary Wilson (c & wk), 7. Stuart Thompson, 8. Joshua Little, 9. George Dockrell 10. Andy McBrine, 11. Boyd Rankin
Afghanistan possible XI: 1. Mohammad Shehzad (wk), 2. Usman Ghani, 3. Asghar Afghan (c), 4. Samiullah Shenwari, 5. Mohammad Nabi, 6. Najibullah Zadran, 7. Shafiqullah, 8. Rashid Khan, 9. Karim Janat, 10. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11. Aftab Alam

Stats and Facts

  • Afghanistan have won all five of their T20Is in 2018.
  • Ireland have won just one of six T20Is in 2018.
  • Afghanistan have won their last five T20Is against Ireland.

Prediction

Big opportunity presents both sides to play good cricket and showcase their skills. For me, Afghanistan start favourites with their bowling attack, which, even in the cold Ireland conditions, could trouble the home team. 
However, the conditions could take getting used to for Afghanistan, which is why I will go with Ireland to win in an upset.
Here’s to a good match.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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