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Irish Independent

Ireland battle but Afghans win

STUART POYNTER continued his form with the bat and Boyd Rankin grabbed two wickets in an over but it wasn't enough to upset the odds as Afghanistan beat Ireland by five wickets in Dehradun to record an eighth straight T20i victory over the Boys in Green.

Poynter, who fired Ireland to victory with a last-ball six against the Netherlands on Sunday, had to mount another recovery, adding an unbeaten 67 for the seventh wicket with George Dockrell after an early collapse saw the visiting side slump to 65-6 in the north-east Indian outpost.

The pugnacious little wicketkeeper found 31 runs from 28 balls, including a six and two fours, while Dockrell, a genuine allrounder these days, finished on 34 not out after emulating Poynter's Dutch feat with a last-ball maximum to give Ireland a competitive 132-6 on a slow scoring pitch.

Rankin's first over of the reply leaked 16 runs and when the big man from County Tyrone saw a boundary slip through him at third man and the first ball of his second over disappear for another four it didn't look to be his day.

But two big wickets in four balls put a smile back on his face, Josh Little kept the pressure on with a blow of his own in a tidy two overs for six runs and when Shane Getkate struck with his second ball Afghanistan were 50-5 in the eighth over with the match evenly poised.

Mohammad Nabi was still there though. After taking 2-16 with his off-spin, the Irish nemesis kept the pursuit on course and with only one outrageously plumb lbw decision going in his favour he saw the job through, finishing 49 not out as his side won with four balls to spare.

Ireland can feel a little aggrieved, not only with the lbw decision off Peter Chase - both umpires are Afghans - but also because miscued shots invariably fell safe, and skipper Paul Stirling will carry optimism into the final two games of the T20 leg of the tour.