Harry Tector rescued Ireland from another middle order stumble in Sharjah with his commanding unbeaten half-century setting up a 38-run victory over Afghanistan in the first of a three-match T20 international series.

A total as many as Ireland’s 149-6 had only been chased down twice on the ground and Afghanistan were never going to make it three once Mark Adair had struck with the first ball of the reply, followed by Josh Little claiming two in two in the next over.

After the seamers had made the initial inroads, Ben White returned a career-best 4-20 with a superb spell of leg spin, and controversially pipped Tector to the man-of-the-match award despite the latter also taking four catches.

“That was a huge win,” skipper Paul Stirling said, after Afghanistan had been bowled out for 111. “I’m really happy. We played with a lot of energy, it was great all-round team performance and we got the win.”

Tector had watched on in dismay as a procession of team-mates got themselves out at the other end to the Afghanistan spinners led by skipper Rashid Khan, playing his first match since undergoing back surgery last year.

Rashid had Stirling caught at long on for 25 - after the Ireland skipper had become the first from any country to hit 400 fours in T20is - then bowled Curtis Campher first ball, and completed his 3-19 haul when Gareth Delany was also held in the deep.

The trio of Afghan spinners had collective figures of 5-44 from 10 overs as the Ireland innings stalled from 54-2 when Tector walked to the crease in the eighth over, to 91-5 at the end of the 15th.

Well supported by Delany and Adair, who hit an enormous six, Tector gave his bowlers something to defend, walking off with 56 not out from 34 balls - his seven fours and two sixes. included a match-turning 18 runs from the final four deliveries.