Afghanistan vs Ireland 1st T20I: Preview and Predicted Playing XI
Paul Stirling holds the key for Ireland
The Afghans are enduring a great run of form in the shortest format, having lost just three out of 21 games played since World T20 2016, which makes them red-hot favourites to secure this series.
With Shahzad being rested, Afghanistan will depend mainly on their three experienced batters; Asghar Afghan, Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi. Asghar leads the batting charts among the lot with 1031 runs while Nabi and Shenwari follow closely with 1014 and 968 runs respectively.
Hazratullah Zazai was a surprise package in the previous series against the same opponents, amassing 156 runs in the two matches, and the skipper will back him to replicate that showing here.
When it comes to the bowling department, Nabi and Rashid Khan are the go-to options for the skipper. Additionally, they also possess raw talent in Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan. Both are capable of troubling the Irish with their variations.
Expected Playing XI
Asghar Afghan (C), Najibullah Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Shafiqullah Shafiq (W), Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Usman Ghani, Rashid Khan, Zahir Khan, Karim Janat and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
On the flip side, Ireland have won eight out of their 26 completed T20I fixtures since WT20 2016, though they will take some confidence from their recent displays during the Oman Quadrangular Series, where they defeated Oman and the Netherlands by 15 runs and one wicket respectively.
Kevin O'Brien, skipper Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie were all among the runs in the recently concluded Oman Quadrangular T20I series and Ireland will need these three to play healthy knocks and get the team towards a competitive total.
Stuart Thompson played a key role in Ireland's win against the Dutch in the Quadrangular Series, picking four wickets for just 18 runs, and the management would like him to come up with a similar display against the Afghans.
George Dockrell is the team's leading wicket-taker in the T20I format and the left-arm spinner is likely to extract a lot of help from spin-friendly conditions in Dehradun. Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase are the dependable pace options for the skipper, and he will expect them to rattle the opponents during the power play overs.
Expected Playing XI
Paul Stirling (C), Kevin O'Brien, Andrew Balbirnie, Shane Getkate, Stuart Poynter (W), Boyd Rankin, Lorcan Tucker, Peter Chase, Joshua Little, Simi Singh and George Dockrell.