Rashid Khan comes up with best batting and bowling figures as Afghanistan take unbeatable lead over Ireland
17-year-old Rashid Khan played the game of his life on Sunday at the Civil Service Cricket Club ground in Belfast, producing both his best performance with the bat as well as with the ball, to give Afghanistan a 79-run victory and a 2-1 lead in the penultimate match of the ODI series.
Ireland had won the last match after going down in the first match of this series, and by the look of early proceedings in the 4th ODI, the hosts were on course for a come-from-behind win in the series. Andy McBrine and Peter Chase dismantled the Afghanistan top order, with Mohammad Shahzad again failing to capitalise on a good start.
Rahmat Shah played a gritty knock of 48 in 70 balls, but with his departure, it looked as if the visitors had again batted themselves out of a match before even the halfway stage. With 32 overs gone, they were struggling at 109/6.
Mohammad Nabi came to Afghanistan’s rescue yet again, a 54-run seventh wicket partnership with Rashid Khan stretching the total to something more competitive. Rashid Khan, who had a average of 13 before this match, has never been known to be one of the better batsmen in the side, but looked more than the part on Sunday. It was thought that Nabi’s departure in the 43rd over would turn the game back into Ireland’s hands, but Rashid had other plans.
The last few overs saw an explosion from Rashid’s bat, as 66 runs were added for the eigth wicket in 47 balls, Rashid’s partner Mirwaiz Ashraf accounting for only 14. Rashid finished with an unbeaten 44-ball 60*, his highest score in international cricket and double of his previous best. His unexpected batting heroics had pushed Afghanistan’s score to 229/7 in 50 overs.
Ireland’s innings began with a controversial wicket in the sixth over, with Ed Joyce having to leave the field in anger. He had stopped running in the middle of the pitch thinking that a shot he had hit had fetched him a boundary. The ball had not crossed the ropes in fact, and Nabi threw the ball back in and the batsman was run out. The umpires asked Afghanistan to retract their appeal, but no such gesture was coming and Joyce was unfortunately sent off.
What followed was a disappointing capitulation from the hosts faced with two young leg spinners – 17-year-old Rashid Khan and 23-year-old Rahmat Shah. The batsmen followed each other in a procession to the pavilion, as Rashid took 4/21 in 8 overs and Rahmat took 2/30 in 6 overs.
The teenaged Rashid had caught a lot of attention by finishing the 2016 World T20 as the second highest wicket taker, and there have been reports that BBL side Adelaide Strikers have shown interest in obtaining his services. With an all-round effort like this, his stock is only set to soar higher.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 229/7 in 50 overs (Rashid Khan 60, Mohammad Nabi 50, Rahmat Shah 48; Andy McBrine 2-29, Peter Chase 2-52) beat Ireland 150 in 41 overs (Kevin O'Brien 34; Rashid Khan 4-21, Rahmat Shah 2-30) by 79 runs