Awful Ireland slump to series loss
Ireland produced one of their most insipid displays of recent times, slumping to an embarrassing eight-wicket loss against Afghanistan in the series decider at Stormont.
The meekness of the display has led to calls for changes throughout the set-up, coming on the back of what has been a bitterly disappointing period for the senior side.
The reluctance to introduce fresh talent, coupled with the absence of a meaningful A team programme over many years has led to the current situation, and this display may well be seen as a watershed for the sport.
There was little to cheer for Irish fans in this match, as after batting first, they were skittled for just 124.
Five fell lbw on another sluggish pitch, which skipper William Porterfield described as "like playing in an away series."
Rashid Khan picked up 3 for 18 on his way to a Man-of-the-Series award, while there were two apiece for Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam and Mohammed Nabi.
Gulbadin and Naib had reduced Ireland to 39 for 4, among their wickets Paul Stirling playing his 100th ODI, and Andy Balbirnie his 50th.
They were signs of a fight-back as Kevin O'Brien and Simi Singh added 32, but that was quickly extinguished by the tourists.
The modest target proved little trouble, despite the early loss of Shahzad.
Ihsanullah hit an unbeaten 57 as the Irish were put out of their misery with 26.1 overs remaining.
Irish skipper William Porterfield said after the loss:
"We knew, looking at the first two games, that we needed to get a good total on the board - it was never going to be a high-scoring affair. Losing those three [early] wickets in the space of a couple of runs put us on the back foot. We knew from there we'd have to play well to get back into it and Kevin [O'Brien] and Simi [Singh] showed a glimpse of that with a good partnership.
"We knew early on was the best time to bat on a surface like that, and that it would slow up as the game went on, but we just didn't get enough runs to provide a challenge.
"Any series between these two sides are generally close - it's typically our batters against their spinners, and their batters against our seamers - and whoever wins that battle comes out on top in that game. That's been the same for the last four series, and will be the case moving forward against Afghanistan, especially looking towards February and March when we're going away to play them."
Ireland and Afghanistan will face each other next in February/March 2019, which will include a series of matches including five ODIs, three T20Is and an inaugural Test match between the two sides.
- 'Mystery' spin from the off
- Stirling edges Alam....
- and there's that giveaway guilty look
- Porterfield drives through into covers
- Balbirnie looks to drive but edges Naib...
- ...and has the Afghans leaping...
- ..in celebration
- Kevin O'Brien forces square
- Simi Singh off the back foot...
- ...fielder Rashid sustains some damage
- Kevin O'Brien off for a single
- Kevin O'Brien across the line...
- ...and Rashid Khan claims another wicket
- Gary Wilson top scored with 23
- Simi Singh falls lbw to Khan
- Andy McBrine determined to get a stride in - not out this time
- Gary Wilson cuts
- Wilson off the back foot...
- ..and Rashid chases it down
- Nabi in the covers
- If it's not lbw....
- ...then it must be caught - Not Out to both!
- Mohammad Nabi on to bowl
- Gary Wilson trapped in front....
- ..the inevitable appeal from Shahzad...
- ...and Asghar the bowler - Out!
- Tim Murtagh with a leg side single
- Tim Murtagh across the line and Out!
- Nice and straight from Rankin.
- Andy McBrine sweeps
- McBrine has reverse swept Nabi to short third man...
- ...where Aftab Alam has held the catch
- That was the Googly Boyd - 'Well left!'
- Rankin lofts to long-on ....
- ..where Naib holds the catch
- Avoiding action
- Rahmat Shah into the leg side
- Andy McBrine bowling
- Rahmat Shah in a tangle and edges to O'Brien...
- 'Are you still here?'...
- ...Rahmat Shah on his way
- Short ball from Rankin ....
- ....Long hit from Janat - 6!
- Solid push by Hasmatullah Shahidi
- Shahidi survives an lbw appeal
- Rankin still running in
- Janat pulls Murtagh for a boundary
- Almost another spectacular run out by Balbirnie
- Dabbed to Third man by Shahidi
- Shahidi getting fancy
- Janat and Shahidi unbeaten at the end
- William Porterfield and Asghar Afghan handshake