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Ireland vs Afghanistan, 1st ODI, Preview: Afghanistan begin their European trip in the Irish lands

Afghanistan will play 2 ODIs at Belfast before heading to England.

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Andrew Balbirnie
Andrew Balbirnie. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The United Kingdom is every cricket team’s one-stop destination right now as the World Cup is lurking around the corner. Afghanistan though have decided to enter Ireland first before heading to England & Wales for what is going to be the biggest challenge of their lives.

Both these sides will be playing two ODIs at Belfast before Afghanistan kick-start their warm-up matches. Ireland are coming on the back of a disappointing Tri-series against Windies and Bangladesh, where the hosts were knocked out of the picture and eventually, Bangladesh won the final defeating the Caribbean side by 5 wickets.

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Afghanistan have a lot to play for having not finished their series with Scotland in a way they would’ve wanted. They won the second game by the skin of their teeth with the first match getting abandoned. But the biggest boost for them is that they have their main players back in mix, who missed the Scotland series due to IPL.

Team Combinations

Ireland

No changes are expected to the side that played against Bangladesh in the last group stage game. William Porterfield and Paul Stirling getting amongst the runs is a huge bonus for the side with Kevin O’Brien already in good form. They will go with a four-man pace attack for this fixture having seen how much the Afghan batsmen have struggled against seam. Barry McCarthy, Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh will be key in the bowling department.

Probable XI

Paul Stirling, James McCollum, Andrew Balbirnie, Wiliam Porterfield (C), Kevin O’Brien, Mark Adair, Gary Wilson (WK), George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh.

Afghanistan

It will be interesting to see who will be the opener for this game amongst Noor Ali Zadran and Hazratullah Zazai. Rahmat Shah has been performing well for side and will be accompanied by the experienced Asghar Afghan and the talented Hashmatullah Shahidi in the middle order. The return of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman makes their XI look very solid and they will once again be dependent on their spin attack.

Probable XI

Mohammad Shahzad (WK), Noor Ali Zadran/Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Gulbadin Naib (C), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Dawlat Zadran/Hamid Hassan, Rashid Khan,  Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Aftab Alam

Focus will be on

Paul Stirling (Ireland)

He scored a century in the last game against Bangladesh and Paul Stirling will be entering this game with loads of confidence. He has done very well for the Irish in the last few months and on a track where we might see a lot of runs, swashbuckling batsmen like him have a huge role to play. If he can give their side a quick-fire start, it could be a huge contribution to the side.

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

Rashid Khan didn’t have the most memorable IPLs, but he did chip in with big performances for the Sunrisers in crucial games. Most of the batsmen these days are trying to see his overs off, which gets difficult in this format where he has 10 overs to do some magic. He can contribute with the bat as well if needed, making him a priceless asset for the side.

Head to Head

Matches Played – 25 | Ireland won – 12 | Afghanistan won – 12 | No Result – 1

Stat Attack

75 – Rahmat Shah needs 75 runs to complete 2,000 runs in ODIs.

Broadcast Details

Live Streaming – YouTube

Match Timings – 15:15 IST; 10:45 local

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