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Match Report

All square in Dehradun

Ireland claimed a five wicket victory and with it a share of the series as Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie mastered the masters of spin.

Ireland chased down their target with 16 balls to spare after their four man spin attack had restricted Afghanistan to a total of 216.

Ireland again fielded an unchanged eleven while the Afghans opted for five changes. No place for Zazai but Mo Shazad taking his place at the top of the order poses a similar hard hitting threat. A debut also in the series for Zahir Khan whose left-arm Chinamen and Googleys will present Ireland with another variation in their ordeal by spin.

While Murtagh's first delivery disappeared over mid-wicket for 6 the seamer hit back off the fourth delivery, Cameron-Dow squeezing his fingers under the mishit.

Simi Singh did not bowl in the previous match but with McBrine extracting turn from his first over it was clear Ireland would be using all four of their spinners today. McBrine bowled Ahmadi through the gate and when Dockrell claimed two in two balls Afghanistan were reduced to 50-4 in the fifteenth over.

Asghar Afghan was at the crease nursing a shoulder injury he picked up in the previous match and with Mohammad Nabi set about what they seem to do at will against Ireland, building a defendable total.

Seventy six runs were added for the fifth wicket before Nabi was out for 40 but then a final flurry saw Asghar and Rashid add 50 off the final four overs and take the total to 216.

The Irish reply saw Stirling and Porterfield post a half-century opening partnership before Porterfield on 17 faced his first delivery from ODI debutant Zahir Khan.

That cricketing rarity, a left arm Chinaman bowler Khan bemused the Irish captain Portefield when he produced his googly and bowled him.

Balbirnie failed to score last game and seemed determined to produce the form of earlier in the week when his unbeaten century carried Ireland to victory in match 3.

Together he and Stirling added 81 before Stirling was lbw to Rashid Khan. As has happened many times in the past Khan comes up with a wicket when Afghanistan most need one.

This one however failed to meet two of the basic criteria for an lbw decision - he was struck out side the line of off stump (playing a shot) plus that even more rudimentary requirement that the ball was going on to hit the stumps - it wasn't!

The loss of Singh and Dockrell did little to contain the Irish push for victory and when Balbirnie was out for 68 only 10 runs were required with the luxury of 4 overs to get them.

O'Brien finished 33 not out as Stuart Poynter clipped the winning runs with 16 balls to spare.

Great performances with the bat from both Stirling and Balbirnie who seems to be settling into the number 3 slot well.

The balance of the team remains a concern however, on a day when all four spinners played with Rankin and Murtagh the seam attack there is not enough batting. Gone are the days where Botha, Mooney, Cusack and Johnston were genuine all-rounders and the batting had a long look to it.

Afghanistan rang the changes but their ‘new boys' were for the most part experienced players and whatever eleven they named the usual suspects - Mujeeb, Rashid, Nabi and Asghar always featured in the side and always seemed to make a contribution.

Next up is the Test match, a real test of character for some of those who will play having only had minimal or no match time in the ODI series. No prizes for containment in Test as the commentators always like to say you need to take 20 wickets to win. Just who Ireland think will take those is the big question.