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Afghanistan vs Ireland 2020, 1st T20I: 3 reasons why the Afghans won the match

  • Afghanistan defeated Ireland in the 1st T20I by 11 runs (DLS method) to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Modified 09 Mar 2020, 16:58 IST

Afghanistan vs Ireland 2020: 1st T20I
Afghanistan vs Ireland 2020: 1st T20I

Afghanistan registered an 11-run victory by the DLS method in the rain-washed 1st T20I against Ireland at Greater Noida. With this win, Afghanistan took a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series.

Opting to bat first after winning the toss, Ireland openers Paul Stirling (60 runs off 41 balls) and Kevin O Brien (35 runs off 17 balls) provided their team an explosive start as they added 63 runs for the first wicket in just 6 overs. Although Ireland dominated with the bat in the first half of the innings, Afghanistan managed to make a comeback in the second half by taking wickets at regular intervals and restricted Ireland to 172-6 in 20 overs.

Chasing 173, Afghanistan too got off to a flying start. But losing four wickets in quick succession made things difficult for the team. However, the solid batting of Samiullah Shinwari (28 runs off 29 balls) and Najibullah Jardan (42 runs off 21 balls) kept Afghanistan in the chase and they ended up with 133-5 in 15 overs when the rain started and the DLS method declared them victorious by 11 runs.

Despite conceding runs in the initial overs while bowling and suffering a top-order collapse while batting, Afghanistan managed to take the match. And here are the three reasons why Afghanistan won the series opener.

#3. Rashid Khan's 3-22 tamed the Irish batting

Rashid Khan was the most effective of the Afghanistan bowling unit.
Rashid Khan was the most effective of the Afghanistan bowling unit.

The Ireland openers took on the Afghanistan bowlers right from the word go and unsettled them by sending the ball to all the corners of the ground. Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/49) broke the partnership by taking the wicket of O Brien, but Ireland continued their show with the bat and scored 92 runs in 10 overs and eyed a big total.

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However, the introduction of ace spinner Rashid Khan did the trick for Afghanistan as he took the wickets of Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie (29 runs off 28 balls) in his consecutive overs, bringing Afghanistan back into the match. His economical bowling not only slowed down Ireland's scoring rate but also helped the other bowlers to strike at regular intervals. Towards the end, he once again dented the Ireland innings by taking the wicket of Lorcan Tucker (3 runs off 3 balls) in the 19th over.

Rashid's figure of 40-0-22-3 played a crucial role in binding Ireland to a total which was at least 20-30 runs short of a competitive one, keeping Afghanistan in the hunt in the first half of the match.


#2. The 54-run opening stand between Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz eased the pressure

Hazratullah Zazai (R) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (L)
Hazratullah Zazai (R) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (L)

After restricting Ireland to 172-6, Afghanistan needed a solid opening stand to make the chase easier for the batsmen to come and their openers just provided the start the team was looking for.

Hazratullah Zazai (23 runs off 15 balls) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28 runs off 13 balls) toyed with the Ireland bowlers right from the first over as Zazai hit a six off Simi Singh (2/18) off the fourth delivery of the innings. Afghanistan's opening pair's sojourn continued as they scored 17, 13 and 13 runs in the second, third and the fourth over respectively and made the target look well within their reach.

The duo added 54 runs for the first wicket in just 4.3 overs, putting Afghanistan on the driver's seat from where the next batsmen could take the team home without taking the pressure of required run-rate.

#3. Samiullah Shinwari and Najibullah Jardan's 63-run partnership denied Ireland the advantage of Afghanistan's top-order collapse

Najibullah Jardan
Najibullah Jardan's 21-ball 42 helped Afghanistan to keep pace with the asking rate.

Courtesy the explosive opening stand, Afghanistan were all set to win the game without much trouble. However, the top-order of Afghanistan's batting lineup suddenly lost the plot as both the openers were sent back to the pavilion by Ireland's Simi Singh in the 5th over and Afghanistan seemed to lose control over the game as Karim Janat (6 runs off 12 balls) and Asghar Afghan (0) soon lost their wickets and were reduced to 70-4 in 7.4 overs.

But there were a lot left in the game, and in Afghanistan's batting too. Samiullah Shinwari (28 runs off 29 balls) and Najibullah Jardan (42 runs off 21 balls) took the onus of rescuing Afghanistan's chase. While Shinwari batted with a calm approach, Najibullah took the lead of scoring runs and made sure that the asking rate does not go beyond their reach.

The 63-run partnership (44 balls) between Shinwari and Najibullah for the 5th wicket put Afghanistan's chase back on the track. Although Ireland got rid of Shinwari in the last ball of the 15th over after which no play was possible due to rain, the 'Shinwari-Najibullah' pair had already put Afghanistan 11 runs ahead of the DLS par score, eventually winning the match for their team.

Published 06 Mar 2020, 22:32 IST
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