Ireland crushed by Afghanistan
IRELAND WELL BEATEN BY AFGHANISTAN
Ireland slumped to a comprehensive 138-run loss to Afghanistan in the first match of their three game ODI series in Sharjah.
The pre-match talk had centered on how the Irish would handle their recent nemesis, 18 year-old leg-spinner Rashid Khan, but it was to be a 16 year-old off-spinner who would leave the Irish batting in tatters.
Debutant Mujeeb Zadran spun Afghanistan to success in the recent U19 Asia Cup tournament and his elevation to the senior ranks couldn't have gone much better as he removed Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Gary Wilson and Kevin O'Brien in quick succession to record figures of 4 for 24.
Dalwat Zadran accounted for the recalled Niall O'Brien, and when Simi Singh was trapped lbw by Rashid, Ireland were in disarray at 46 for 6, and in danger of recording their lowest ODI total - 77 back at the 2007 World Cup in an attack which featured Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas.
Skipper William Porterfield ensured they would be spared that ignominy with a battling 35, while Stuart Poynter's unbeaten 27 ensured the Irish reached three figures - their 5th lowest ODI total.
Mujeeb claimed the Man-of-the-Match for his four-wicket haul, pipping Rashid Khan who took 3 for 28 to follow up his hard-hit 48 in the Afghanistan total of 238.
Boyd Rankin (4-44) and Tim Murtagh (3-28) both bowled well after Afghanistan had looked on course to post 270 thanks to a 3rd wicket stand of 105 between Nasir Jamal and Rahmat Shah, who both scored half centuries.
A mid-innings collapse saw the Afghans lose four wickets for five runs in a six over spell, as they went from 127 for 2 to 132 for 6, but in an all too recurring theme against Ireland, their lower order powered them out of trouble.
Khan hit 4 fours and a six in his 48 from 49 balls, while Shafiqullah cleared the ropes three times in a destructive 36 from just 23 deliveries.
Kevin O'Brien dismissed Rashid with the final delivery of the innings, becoming the first Irishman to take 100 ODI wickets on a night when there was little else to celebrate in a chastening defeat.
Ireland have a chance to bounce back when the teams meet again tomorrow (THURS) at the same venue.
First One-Day International, Sharjah
Afghanistan 238-9 (50 overs; Nasir Jamal 53, Rahmat Shah 50, Rashid Khan 48, Shafiqullah 36; B Rankin 4-44, T Murtagh 3-28)
Ireland 100 (31.4 overs; W Porterfield 35, S Poynter 27*; Mujeeb Zadran 4-24, Rashid Khan 3-28, Dawlat Zadran 2-13)
Afghanistan won by 138 runs