IRELAND slipped to a 17-run loss (DLS) in a rain affected T20 International against Afghanistan in Delhi today (FRI).
Chasing a formidable Afghan total of 184 for 8, Ireland were 12 runs ahead when play was halted at 65 for 2 from 6.1 overs due to a heavy downpour.
That was due primarily to Paul Stirling's boundary blitz as the Middlesex opener smashed 4 sixes in his 34 from just 15 balls. He shared a second wicket stand of 53 from just 21 balls with skipper William Porterfield (22) as the Irish took the upper hand.
However, on the resumption a revised target of 111 from 11 overs saw the Irish needing a further 46 from 29 balls, which proved beyond them as leg-spinner Rashid Khan wreaked havoc.
The 18 year old showed why he has been snapped up on an IPL contract by taking 5 wickets for just 3 runs, as Ireland lost 7 wickets for just 14 runs. His figures were the 4th best in T20 cricket, and proved the difference between the two sides.
Earlier, debutant Barry McCarthy (4-33), had looked like being the star of the show as he grabbed early wickets including the prolific Shahzad to leave Afghanistan wobbling.
They were rescued by a counter-attacking Najeeb Tarakai, who smashed 7 fours and 5 sixes in a blistering 90 from just 58 balls, sharing a match defining sixth wicket stand of 57 in just 26 balls with Mohammed Nabi (34). Taraki's pyrotechnics saw him earn a joint Man-of-the-Match with Rashid.
"It was frustrating when the rain came down," said Porterfield afterwards. "We had momentum before it, and it was quite a long break which meant we didn't have the full 20 overs to play with. It was always going to be difficult needing to score 40 odd off four and a bit overs."
Ireland have a chance at a consolation win when the sides meet again on Sunday in the final T20 match of the series.