Afghanistan vs Ireland, 2nd T20I : Preview and Predicted Playing XI
In a fascinating turnaround, the Afghans triumphed the Irish men by five wickets in the opening T20I at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun. Now, they will aim to seal their third consecutive series victory over the visitors, when they invite them for the second T20I at the same venue on Saturday, February 23.
The Afghans registered their eighth consecutive T20I win in the previous fixture against Ireland, and their players will be oozing with confidence after their show in the opening fixture.
Despite the win, Afghanistan clearly missed the services of swashbuckling Mohammad Shahzad in the first T20. The home team lost five wickets for just 50 runs and things were seemingly going Ireland's way before the experienced Mohammad Nabi (49*) and Najibullah Zadran (40*) shared an unbeaten 86 run stand to guide the team over the victory line.
Both these batsmen have been Mr dependable for the team and are likely to continue it in the next fixture as well. Skipper Asghar Afghan, Shamiullah Shinwari and Hazratullah Zazai failed to provide a start in the earlier fixture and the team would need a much better performance from them in the next outing.
Man of the Match, Nabi and Rashid Khan shared two wickets each and played a key role in rattling the opponents batting order early. Both are the highest wicket-takers for their country and are likely to pose a major threat to the opponents in the next game.
While Mujeeb ur Rahman and Karim Janat both shared a wicket slice in the first T20, they will be eager to share more in the second fixture.
Expected Playing XI
Asghar Afghan (C), Hazratullah Zazai, Najibullah Zadran, Shafiqullah Shafiq (W), Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Fareed Ahmad.
On the other side, Ireland's form has been quite inconsistent in the shortest format, which somewhat hurts their morale. Despite this, they would love to take a few positives from the first game and will hope to get over the line in the second T20I.
The failure of the batsmen dented their chances of progress in the first T20I, as four of their front line batters including Kevin O'Brien and Stuart Thompson were ripped off before reaching the double figures mark.
The skipper will need them to fire big ones in the second fixture if they are to win the game. Paul Stirling is among team's leading run-getters and seemed to be in good touch during his 23 run knock but the skipper will be eager to convert it into something substantial in the next game.
Meanwhile, George Dockrell (34*) and Stuart Poynter (31*) displayed a great temperament in the previous game to get Ireland towards a respectable total and are expected to repeat their good work in case they lose early wickets.
Boyd Rankin, Peter Chase and Joshua Little will once again be the skipper's key options in the bowling. All of them were among wickets in the earlier fixture but failed to replicate the same during the death overs, which they should rectify in the next game.
Skipper Stirling made a few out of the box decisions by not introducing Simi Singh during the middle overs, which certainly proved costly for the hosts as Shane Getkate (1/21) lacked the support from the other end.
Expected Playing XI
Paul Stirling (C), Kevin O'Brien, Andrew Balbirnie, Stuart Poynter (W), Joshua Little, Boyd Rankin, Stuart Thompson, Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate and Peter Chase.