The Ireland players were given the day off yesterday ahead of the remaining two games in the World Cup Super League series against Afghanistan in the space of three days.

The 16-run defeat in Abu Dhabi on Thursday allowed Afghanistan to draw level with them in the World Cup qualifying table but, after scoring 271 and taking 56 runs off their star performer, Rashid Khan, there is plenty of confidence in the camp that they can come from behind and win the series, as they did in the teams' only previous one-day internationals in the UAE in 2017.

The 'blame' for Ireland having to chase so many in the opening game was put down to the two dropped catches by wicket-keeper Lorcan Tucker, which allowed debutant Rahmanullah Gurbaz to score an extra 107 runs and Rashid to hit 17 from the last over.

But Tucker clawed back 83 of those runs from his own bat in Ireland's unsuccessful chase, so his place for tomorrow's second game is not in doubt and he hopes not just him but Ireland get it right next time.

"I think we let ourselves down in the field, myself included, and that had a drastic effect on their total and our chase," he said.

"As a group we work hard on our fielding and we hope that yesterday was a one-off and we can return to our high standards on Sunday."

Tucker's second 50 for Ireland followed his third best score, 42, in the second ODI against the UAE three days earlier, and the Pembroke batsman said that helped him kick on against Afghanistan.

"Time in the middle really stands to you on wickets like this," added Tucker. "I was lucky to get that time against the UAE and that gave me some confidence yesterday. However, while it was nice to get some runs, they don't mean that much if we don't get that win.

"Obviously Rashid and (Mohammad) Nabi together form a dangerous attack, but our plans revolve around nullifying that threat by turning over the strike and taking minimal risks. We know as long as they're not taking wickets, we're going alright."

A fresh pitch has been prepared in the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, so Ireland have a decision to make on their attack - whether to play the extra spinner again or rotate the pace bowlers.

Mark Adair has been left out of the last two games and Josh Little, with his left-arm variety, has been training well after recovering from Covid, with Craig Young, who has failed to take a wicket on this trip - although he was denied Rashid's wicket with his final ball on Thursday by Tucker's drop - the most likely to make way.

As captain Andrew Balbirnie said in the post-match press conference: "We know what we are up against when we meet Afghanistan, they are skilful with the ball but we are just as skilful with the bat, and we just have to go out there in the next two games with a clear head and back our abilities.

"They took momentum into the second innings from their last five overs (when they scored 66) and we knew we'd have to start well with the bat. Unfortunately we didn't do that."

It was the second game in a row that Ireland's 'Big Three' of Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien, in his new role as opener in ODIs, and Balbirnie have failed, but it means they are one match closer to a big score.

If even one of them gets a century, the middle-order are in form and the Ireland bowlers gained enough encouragement on Thursday to know they can take wickets and defend a competitive total.