Ireland put up a fighting performance to pull off a win in the third ODI against Afghanistan at Greater Noida on Sunday. The win helped Ireland to keep series alive. Afghanistan lead 2-1 in the series with two matches to go. In the third ODI, Afghanistan put up 264/8 in 50 overs, but could not prevent Ireland from notching up a 6-wicket victory.
Choosing to bat first on winning the toss, Afghanistan were off to a nightmarish start as they were reduced to 44/4 in 10.2 overs. PKD Chase did the bulk of the damage, taking both the Afghanistan openers’ wickets for just 20 runs. Mohammad Shahzad fell for 11 and Noor Ali Zadran for 1. Rahmat Shah (8) and Asghar Stanikzai (16) fell without adding much to the score.
At 44/4, Afghanistan were in deep trouble. Afghanistan banked on their two experienced players in Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi to bail them out. They worked hard for the runs, putting up 23 runs in around 7 overs before Shenwari fell for 20. Nabi (13) was run out at the score of 97/6 and it all looked downhill from there.
It’s then that the depth of Afghanistan batting came to the fore. Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan put up 96-run partnership for the seventh wicket before the former fell for 51 off 76 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes. Rashid Khan was next out four balls later at the same score of 193/8. Rashid top-scored with 56 off 50 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes.
Shafiqullah then played a brilliant counter-attacking innings to give team some total to fight for. Shafiqullah made 28-ball 50* with 2 fours and 4 sixes to take the team’s total to 264/8.
Ireland did not had a great start either. They lost opener Ed Joyce for 12 and skipper WTS Porterfield for 1 in less than 6 overs. It was then hard work for Afghanistan as Paul Stirling and Niall O’Brien frustrated the Afghanistan bowling for 21 overs. The two put up 96-run partnership for the third wicket.
Naill fell first for 30 and it was then left to Stirling and Andy Balbirnie to take the team through. Ireland was going strong at 179/3 before Nabi provided the breakthrough by dismissing Stirling for 99. Stirling cracked 9 fours and 1 six for his 99.
Balbirnie then shut the doors on Afghanistan by taking Ireland across the finish line. Balbirnie cracked 74-ball 85 with 11 fours and one six. Gary Wilson was the other no out batsman when Ireland finished off the match. Wilson made 28 not out. Ireland won the match to keep the series alive. Afghanistan are ahead by 2-1 with two matches to go.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 264/8 (Rashid Khan 56) lose to Ireland 265/4 (Paul Stirling 99) by 6 wickets.