Harry Tector scored his fifth one-day international century for Ireland in Sharjah last night but once again found himself on the losing side as Afghanistan eased to victory by 35 runs in the first game of a three-match series.

Tector showed why he is ranked the sixth best ODI batsman in the world, as he rescued Ireland from 34-3, adding 173 with Lorcan Tucker, to give the Boys in Green a sniff of overhauling the hosts’ 310-5.

But Tucker was caught behind for an ODI career-best of 85, which contained eight fours and two sixes, and a clearly fatigued Tector holed out in the final over for 138 as Ireland finished well short on 275-8.

The 24-year-old, who faced 147 balls and struck nine fours and three sixes, has also made two ODI centuries against New Zealand, and one each against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh without once finishing on the winning side.

His cause yesterday was not helped by no other Ireland batter reaching double figures on a pitch that became progressively harder to score on, although Paul Stirling was unlucky to be adjudged caught behind for five.

“The two lads were outstanding,” skipper Stirling said. “We ask the batting group to get in and go big, and they played out of their skins. 

“Overall, we were good in patches but on the balance we didn’t deserve the win.”

Stirling says he had no regrets about asking Afghanistan to bat after winning the toss in Ireland’s 200th ODI, but he would certainly have rued his side dropping centurion Rahmanullah Gurbaz on seven.

Left-arm spinner Theo van Woerkom was the pick of the Ireland bowlers, finding sharp spin at times to return figues of 3-55, and Craig Young and Graham Hume claimed a wicket apiece, but on the back of 121 from Gurbaz the hosts found at least 30 too many runs.