Paul Stirling scored his first half-century as Ireland white-ball captain in Sharjah last night but it wasn’t enough to retain his unbeaten record as Afghanistan stormed to a 117-run victory to take the one-day international series 2-0.

Instead it was Stirling’s long-time rival Mohammad Nabi who stole the show, first by reviving his side with a watchful 48 that helped Afghanistan to 236-9, and then with a mesmerising spell of off-spin that turned the game on its head.

Ireland were strongly placed on 77-1 when Stirling reached his 29th ODI half-century at a run-a-ball at the end of the 17th over  but three deliveries later he tried to hit Nabi for a second six, failed to clear long off, and the Boys in Green imploded.

In form Harry Tector missed a reverse sweep and survived a close lbw appeal before Nabi pinned him for three, Lorcan Tucker chipped to mid-wicket and Andy McBrine and Graham Hume were both bowled as the veteran returned a barely believable 5-17.

Curtis Campher, who struck a six and five fours, was unlucky to be given caught behind down the leg-side for 43, but the rest of the batting was abysmal and for the second game in succession nine Ireland players failed to reach double figures.

Tailender Barry McCarthy did hit one defiant six but was bowled next ball to complete a clatter of eight wickets for 26 runs as the innings closed on 119.

“That target of 230-odd was much more in the ball-park of what we could chase, and after 20 overs of the second dig we were in a good position,” Stirling said.

"But when I threw my wicket away and we went downhill.”

Downhill fast.

Stirling, who has previously led Ireland to series wins in the West Indies and Zimbabwe, will need to pick his side up before the first of three T20 internationals on Friday.