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Irish Independent

Afghanistan clinch T20 series

Boyd Rankin was the star turn with the ball for Ireland on his club ground at Bready last night but the big man from Co Tyrone could not prevent Afghanistan easing to a second victory by 81 runs to claim the three-match T20 international series with a game to spare.

Fast bowler Rankin has had to wait until his 114th international to make a first appearance for Ireland in the village where he learnt his cricket and he did the Boys in Green proud with a sharp four overs that delivered excellent figures of 2-14.

Left-armer George Dockrell also tied down the visitors, taking 1-19 from his set of four, but as a unit the Ireland bowlers were unable to keep a grip, and after wobbling at 14-2 after four overs Afghanistan still reached a respectable 42-2 at the end of the six overs powerplay.

Teenager Josh Little was typical of the inconsistency of the attack, conceding just a single from his first over then 19 from his next as Hazrat Zazai followed up his 74 on Monday with 82 from 54 balls in an Afghan total of 160-8.

Superb After key man Paul Stirling was caught in the second over for two, the Ireland chase failed to get going and fell well woefully short in the face of superb spin bowling from Rashid Khan and Mujeeb, despite a defiant top score of 33 from former skipper William Porterfield.

Rankin had the satisfaction of hitting Rashid, the world's best T20 bowler, for a mighty six over cow corner but he was bowled next ball and when Peter Chase was dismissed three balls later Ireland were all out for 79.

Speaking after the match, Gary Wilson was asked if the toss was a crucial factor:

"I don't think when you lose by 81 runs you can point to the toss. Perhaps if you have a 20 run loss or a 10 run loss you could have said batting second was the harder dig. We would've batted had we won the toss, as early on was the best time to bat.

"The boys will be hurting in there and know that that's not good enough. When we all come to practice tomorrow I'll expect everyone to be back up and giving 100%."

Hometown star Boyd Rankin said:

"At half-time I was saying it was probably about par score. We could have restricted them to 130-140 if we bowled a little better. Our plans were to get Zazai early, but that hasn't happened the last two games. I think we contained him pretty well in the first six but obviously we didn't get him out.

"We needed to get off to a good start, but didn't get that losing three early wickets. Once that happened it makes it difficult for the lads coming in with the run rate climbing. It was one of those days where we kept losing wickets and never got a partnership going.

"I think it will be good to come back and get a win in that final T20 on Friday going into the one-day internationals next week - it'll give us a bit of confidence. It was close on Monday, but it was their day today - that seems to be the way T20s go, but hopefully we can come back and put it right on Friday.

"[Playing at Bready] was obviously really special for me. It was touch-and-go playing here, but it was very nice to be able to play my first proper game here and it was good to get a good crowd at home."

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