Ireland capitulate in fourth ODI
Ireland slumped to a hugely disappointing defeat by 109 runs, bowled out inside 36 overs having let Afghanistan off the hook earlier in the day.
Ireland had reduced the Afghans to 81 for 6 but could not force home that advantage and a total of 223 proved way too many on a day Ireland will wish to forget.
After the successful chase in the previous match William Porterfield opted for the same tactics after winning the Toss and indeed opted for the same team as last time. Afghanistan declared four changes notably leaving out hard hitting wicketkeeper Mo Shahzad but they still retained a formidable batting line up that bats all the way down.
Ireland claimed early wickets as has been their habit, and with Afghanistan reduced to 81 for 6 had hopes of forcing home their advantage however Asghar Afghan was still there and with Mohammad Nabi added exactly 50 for the seventh wicket before Rashid Khan entered the fray at number nine.
As in previous encounters the tail, though it hardy merits the description, wagged, and a further 92 was added before the innings was wrapped up at 223 in the fiftieth over with Nabi scoring 64 and Khan last out for 52.
James Cameron-Dow with 3-32 off his 10 overs and Andy McBrine 2-37 off his 10 were the pick of the Irish bowlers although it was perhaps ominous that the spinners were getting an increasing amount of help from the already used pitch.
The Irish openers Porterfield and Stirling had posted 31 in the sixth over when Porterfield fell lbw to seamer Aftab Alam and Balbirnie and Stirling both went in the next over to spinner Mujeeb.
Simi Singh has yet to make any impression with the bat on this trip and was unused as a bowler today so perhaps understandable that he and even Kevin O'Brien were watchful in the extreme.
Gulbadin Naib bowing tidy line and length medium pace in tandem with off-spinner Mohammad Nabi ensured that Ireland progressed slowly, dots and singles coming in equal measure.
It was hard to see how Ireland were going to break the Afghan stranglehold on the scoring rate and when Singh went to sweep a Rashid Khan googly from way outside off stump and missed the writing was on the wall.
Khan had McBrine caught and bowled and the return of seamer Aftab Alam accounted for O'Brien, Poynter and Murtagh in quick time.
A capitulation in the end from Ireland who didn't seem to know whether to stick or twist after the loss of those early three wickets and in the end were left with a mountain to climb.
Another day when Ireland didn't have the fire power to finish off the Afghan innings and it's also hard to see how they could chase 200 against the Afghan spinners without the kind of innings Balbirnie produced in the last match.
Changes surely for the last must-win match from Ireland. They can't hope to match Nabi and Khan coming in at eight and nine but more and better batting is required on Sunday.