Afghanistan v Ireland, 1st T20I, Greater Noida March 8, 2017

Shenwari and Shahzad thump Ireland

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Afghanistan 171 for 4 (Shenwari 56, Shahzad 47) beat Ireland 165 for 5 (Thompson 56, Wilson 41*, Hamza 2-23) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

File photo - Mohammad Shahzad slammed a brisk 47 to enter the top-five among T20I batsmen © Peter Della Penna

Ireland paid the price for ill-disciplined bowling and conceded the first T20 international to Afghanistan by six wickets in Greater Noida. Ireland did most things right at the beginning. Luck favoured them at the toss, and Stuart Thompson and William Porterfield gave them a strong start after electing to bat. But once Afghanistan's spinners began stifling them with regular wickets, things went downhill.

Ireland still managed a late recovery - thanks to Gary Wilson's 27-ball 41 not out - that took them to competitive 165 for 5. But the chase was entirely dominated by Afghanistan, Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Shahzad leading the way as the side romped to 171 for 4 with 12 balls to spare. Afghanistan secured their ninth successive win - the longest such streak in T20Is.

On a sluggish pitch where the ball repeatedly stopped on the batsmen, Ireland's bowlers needed to take pace off the ball and target the good-length region. They did the former, but struggled with their lines and lengths, generously offering width outside off and erring short. Given the lack of pace off the surface, the short balls gave batsmen enough time to get into position, and swat them away.

Afghanistan did not respond with the prettiest of strokes, but with Ireland's spinners failing to make them use their feet, their muscle proved enough to clear the boundaries and mow the target down. Their opening partnership, which lasted five overs, averaged two boundaries per over as Najeeb Tarikai and Shahzad used their brawn to cut, pull and drive. Ireland had their first breakthrough at the end of the fifth over when Wilson, the wicketkeeper, ran back to snaffle Tarikai's leading edge off an attempted slog.

Ireland needed to sustain that sharpness on the field. Shenwari, who got off the mark with a slapped boundary through extra cover, nearly fell to a short-ball trap from Craig Young. With fine leg inside the circle, Young banged one short. Shenwari pulled, but too fine to his liking as the ball went straight to the fielder, who let it burst through his fingers. Two overs later, O'Brien put down Shahzad in front of the long-on boundary after failing to pick up the batsman's loft in time. Shahzad was on 27 at that point.

Both batsmen made ample use of their reprieves. Shenwari, in particular, was in a punishing mood, springing on anything pitched up, and rocking back comfortably to the not-so-full ones. But the one area the partnership failed to make an impression was the running between the wickets.

Mix-ups were frequent, and one such moment of indecision ended the partnership. Shahzad, hesitating after responding to a call for a single, was caught short at the keeper's end. By then, he had gone past Umar Akmal to become the fifth-highest scorer in T20 internationals.

If Ireland sniffed an opening, it came to a swift end after O'Brien's nine-ball over, the 16th of the innings, which went for 27 runs. If his fuller balls were easy pickings for Shenwari and Asghar Stanikzai, O'Brien made it worse with three wides - one of which evaded the keeper and scooted to the fine leg boundary. With the equation down to seven off 24, it was Afghanistan's game to lose. Though they lost two late wickets, including that of Shenwari to a brilliant catch by George Dockrell at long-on, the damage had already been done. Shafiqullah, ultimately, completed the victory with a shovelled six over wide long-on.

In contrast, Afghanistan's bowlers, Rashid Khan, particularly, showed better awareness of how to bowl on the surface. As has become almost customary with them, Afghanistan began with spin, and Amir Hamza struck with his fourth ball when Paul Stirling misread the length and perished to the sweep and lost his leg stump. But like Ireland, Afghanistan bowled short and wide in the early exchanges as Thompson and Porterfield quickly wrested back the initiative.

Thompson played to merit and his ease in playing off either foot threw Mohammad Nabi off his length. The offspinner was tonked for three fours and a six in the sixth over as Ireland closed the Powerplay at 48 for 1.

But Afghanistan clawed their way back, starting with the re-introduction of Hamza. The left-arm spinner outsmarted Thompson with a flatter trajectory and had the batsman holing out to long-on. Porterfield was run out after an utterly chaotic chain of events - he survived one chance on the second run and was caught short on the third, and with O'Brien struggling against spin, the run rate dipped.

Rashid did his bit in choking the batsmen, using the googly smartly and getting the odd ball to turn. O'Brien, who had struggled to pick Rashid, decided the give the bowler the charge and swung wildly to one that spun away from him to be stumped.

Wilson and Lorcan Tucker then provided a fine exhibition of batting on a slow pitch, using scoops, sweeps, reverse-sweeps and cuts as Ireland punched 39 runs off the last three overs. But, as it turned out, the recovery was far from a match-winning one.

Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nerney1414745 on March 9, 2017, 19:44 GMT

    People really need to calm down here. Afghanistan are a good t20 team, very much the up and coming team in international cricket right now. But they are far from world beaters, especially in the other two formats. It's goes without saying they should be full members and getting more fixtures against bigger teams. It HAS basically been decided that Afghanistan and Ireland will be upgraded to bigger and better things within the next year or two. It will not happen before then so stop calling for it.

  • Hamid Seddiqi on March 9, 2017, 10:28 GMT

    Great to see Afghanistan finishing the job with the bat also... There are still a lot of areas to improve on... Happy with Shapoors return, he is just back and we expect he will further improve in future games.... All the best team blue tigers...

  • aimala1964449 on March 9, 2017, 6:51 GMT

    I believe now it is the time for Afghanistan to be the full member of the ICC as they have been beating series of competent associates and remains unbeatable. So it is strongly recommended to ICC to put Afghanistan as a full member of the ICC.

  • aimala1964449 on March 9, 2017, 6:48 GMT

    I believe now it is the time for Afghanistan to be the full member of the ICC as they have been beating series of competent associates and remains unbeatable. So it is strongly recommended to ICC to put Afghanistan as a full member of the ICC.

  •   Mustafa Sarwari on March 9, 2017, 6:45 GMT

    ARMANI777 to be honest i do agreed with you we have no problem at all if 2 brothers play in same team but should have some talent and can WARDAKAFG tell me what talent these 2 brothers got ? in fact we have good all rounders like Mirwais Asharaf we have Gulaibuddin in the field it was poor poor captaincy by Asghar when u see and observed that Karim Janat is being expensive with Shapoor you should used Shinwari & Gulabuddin instead of expensive overs by Shappor and Karim Janat i think shapoor is back after a long time he need a chance but no more chance to Karim janat give chance to Farid he's better bowler than Karim and what was Asghar doing at the end he wanted to finish the game in style but they should learn some lesson from Zimbabwe tour never take any team lightly best of luck for series but please selectors select guys on their talents not on their relationship thanks please publish

  • Rehman on March 9, 2017, 5:57 GMT

    WardakAFG: I agree if two brothers in the same team show strong and consistent performance. But in the case of Afghanistan, the scenario is totally different. Both brothers (Asghar and Karim) have been performing poorly, especially Asghar's performance has been dismal since his only one winning score against Bangladesh in 2014. Since then show me a single match where the captain has played a winning a knock. Since then all the matches have been won by mainly by these three players: Nabi, Shehzad and Rashid. His captaincy is also full of faults. In yesterday's match despite being hammered for more than 15 runs in first two hours, Asghar continued with bowling Karim, which shows that he is a bad captain. Asghar and Karim are even not comparable with Waugh brothers.

  • nabijo3387295 on March 9, 2017, 4:58 GMT

    i don't know how many evidence ICC need to give afghanistan full membership. why they deprive that reward from afg, these guys are serious players, their team deserve a full membership grant. soon they'll be inevitable to reward afg full-membership. as they are going ahead and defeating big guys they are getting hails from professionals of cricket , big teams should expect from afg team sooner their grave defeats. GO AHEAD AFGHANISTAN

  • Zahirshah Haidari on March 9, 2017, 4:38 GMT

    We want Farid malik and Dowlat Zadran instead of Karim and Shapoor.

  •   Mustafa Sarwari on March 9, 2017, 4:37 GMT

    Congratulation team Afghanistan for outstanding performance in first T20 against inform Ireland all credit goes to Shinawari and Mohammad Shahzad for their awesome batting performance and also well bowled by Hamza and Rashid between congratulation to Mohammad Shahzad for being ranked 5th in T20's just after great Virot Kohli good luck blue tigers for the rest of series and we request from ICC to consider Afghanistan as a full member and grant them full membership they are just crazy about cricket if our Afghanistan team get full membership they will be more impressive and will improve more please give them chance to play with full members its now time to give them chance to play against top 6 teams please ICC

  • jasimz6700070 on March 8, 2017, 21:39 GMT

    Fantastic batting by samiullah shinwari well done good luck for next session.

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