Afghanistan vs Ireland, Third ODI : Preview and Playing XI
Ireland bounced back in the second ODI against Afghanistan and levelled the series. Now both the teams will look to go all out in this third and deciding OD, which is to be played on Friday, August 31 at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Belfast.
At this ground, Both Afghans and Irish men have faced each other on six occasions with the scoreline tied at 3-3. In the previous encounter on August 29, Afghanistan opted to bat first and posted a paltry 182/9 in their 50 overs. Ireland then got over the line with a little over six overs to spare to win by three wickets.
The win in the previous game will surely give Ireland some confidence going into this deciding game of the series but at the same time, they will be equally concerned about their batting. There were chasing a modest total of 182 last time and at one stage they had their hearts in their mouths after being reduced to 164-7.
Batting: Andrew Balbirnie is looking in fine form with scores of 55 and 60 in the first two ODIs respectively and he will hold the key to Ireland's batting in this series decider. While Gary Wilson and Paul Stirling scored 38 and 39 runs in first and second ODI respectively and the team will need these two to play a good knock in next game as well.
Skipper William Porterfield and Kevin O'Brien have not been able to score in the series and will be eager to prove their worth in the upcoming fixture.
Bowling: Tim Murtagh has claimed a four-wicket haul in each of the two games and he will be his skipper's go-to man when it comes to bowling. While he was well supported by Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase, who have bowled well in both the matches and have been able to maintain constant pressure on the Afghan batsmen.
Expected Playing XI: William Porterfield (C), Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O'Brien, Simi Singh, Kevin O'Brien, Gary Wilson, Andy McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase.
The three-wicket loss to Ireland in the last game was Afghanistan's first defeat in their last six one-day internationals and they will look to bounce back in the decisive match to clinch the series.
Batting: Gulbadin Naib and Hashmatullah Shahidi struck twin half-centuries in the opening game of the series but failed to replicate it in second. While Skipper Asghar Afghan and Najibullah Zadran scored 39 and 42 in the second game and the team will need these batsmen to continue their good form in the third game.
Bowling: Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi have been the standout performers from this bowling group. The former has taken five wickets so far while the latter has four. Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been very economical and he will look to tighten the screws in the middle overs. Aftab Alam is another bowler who could peg back Ireland with early strikes.
Expected Playing XI : Asghar Afghan (C), Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Gulbadin Naib, Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi.