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Ireland vs Afghanistan 3rd T20I Preview

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

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58 rating points separate these two sides in the T20I rankings, but given the conditions on offer in this series, you would not have been considered silly if you expected a more competitive one.

Unfortunately for Ireland, their best chance of making a mark in this series was in the first game, as Afghanistan had to adjust to the conditions. They were on the end of an Hazratullah Zazai onslaught on Monday, followed up by a spin test on Wednesday which they couldn’t pass, just like the recent India series. Can the Irish put up a better show in the 3rd T20I, and build some momentum ahead of the ODI series?

Afghanistan continue to fly. They have now won all seven of their T20Is in 2018, and they are not in the mood to stop. Yes, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ireland are ranked 10th and below, but each series still represented threats that the Afghans have dealt with in expert fashion. Hazratullah Zazai showed his talent in the 2nd T20I, after not making anywhere near as fast a start as the first T20I, and then Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman further emphasised just how valuable they will likely be to Afghanistan in the next 10-15 years.

A series whitewash awaits.

Key to an Ireland win

In their last four T20Is, Ireland have knocked over for under 100 twice. India’s spinners were too good in the recent series, and so too Afghanistan’s spinners, who have now taken 14 wickets between them in the first two matches.
Who will step up for the Irish with the bat?
Ireland desperately need more from experienced players such as Paul Stirling, William Porterfield and Kevin O’Brien. Just quietly, O’Brien needs to be batting higher up the order – having him at six is a little too low, so Ireland need to get their strategic game in order, too.
Also, despite the heavy loss on Wednesday, Ireland showed encouraging signs with the ball, with Boyd Rankin, George Dockrell, Simi Singh and Peter Chase having decent outings. However, can they get into Afghanistan’s top order a little further, owing significantly to Hazratullah Zazai’s wicket? Remains to be seen.

Key to an Afghanistan win

The template has been set.
The last four T20Is have seen Ireland attempting to chase scores against good spin attacks and crumbling badly. Afghanistan, on the back of Zazai’s quality performances, have put up 160 twice, and both times it was too much for Ireland. If they bat first, expect a similar run of events.
But, you get the feeling Afghanistan’s spinners will be too strong even if they bowl first. This is something they could be keen on, to see how well they can chase a total in these conditions.

Possible XIs

I expect Ireland to make some changes to their batting, especially in terms of the batting positions of certain players.
Ireland possible XI: 1. Paul Stirling, 2. William Porterfield, 3. Andy Balbirnie, 4. Kevin O’Brien, 5. Gary Wilson (c & wk), 6. Simi Singh, 7. Stuart Thompson, 8. George Dockrell, 9. Josh Little, 10. Peter Chase, 11. Boyd Rankin
Will Afghanistan experiment now that the series is over? Big hitting Shafiqullah was brought into the side in the 2nd T20I, and will likely get another chance. What about the bowling? I would give the other seamers in the squad a chance, namely Gulbadin Naib.
Afghanistan possible XI: 1. Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2. Hazratullah Zazai, 3. Asghar Afghan (c), 4. Samiullah Shenwari, 5. Shafiqullah/Usman Ghani, 6. Mohammad Nabi, 7. Najibullah Zadran, 8. Rashid Khan, 9. Aftab Alam, 10. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11. Fareed Ahmad/Gulbadin Naib

Stats and Facts

  • Afghanistan have won the last seven T20Is against Ireland.
  • Ireland have won just one of eight T20Is in 2018.
  • Rashid Khan has taken three wickets in five consecutive T20 innings (three for Sussex, twice for Afghanistan). The world record is six by Alfonso Thomas.

Prediction

I had Ireland to cause an upset in the first match, as that was their best chance with Afghanistan possibly needing to adjust to these conditions. 
It has all been downhill in this series for the Irish, and I expect it to continue. Afghanistan to win and make it 3-0.
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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