Afghanistan 338 (Stanikzai 101, Rahmat 68, Shahzad 63, Stirling 6-55) beat Ireland 304 (Stirling 95, Joyce 55, Rashid 6-43, Dawlat 3-52) by 34 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A match lit up by stellar individual performances for most parts ended on a tame note as Ireland suffered two mini-collapses on either side of a sixth-wicket stand that kept them interested briefly in a chase of 339. They fell 34 short of Afghanistan's 338, once again failing to negotiate 18-year-old Rashid Khan who now has 18 wickets in his last four matches across formats against them. The legspinner finished with a career-best 6 for 43.
The first of his six wickets was Paul Stirling, who was having arguably the best match of his career till he was given out. Having taken 6 for 55 earlier after spontaneously switching to legspin halfway through his spell, the offspin-bowling opener had powered along to 95 off 79 when he was struck in front of leg stump by a googly. He was five runs away from equalling Paul Colingwood's returns of a six-for and century in the same match. His disappointment was telling as he let out cathartic screams after umpire Ahmed Shah Durrani had raised his finger. To his credit, however, he didn't make much of it after picking up the Man-of-the-Match award.
"We were told that the umpires are always right. Fairplay to them, [we] respect the umpires. That's the way we have been taught to play the game," Stirling said.
Ireland were 173 for 2 at that point, also fuelled by Ed Joyce who scored 55 in an opening stand of 113. Rashid's googly then made Niall O'Brien second-guess a legspinner as he was trapped plumb, and William Porterfield's 46-ball 45 ended when he closed the face to get a leading edge off a googly to extra cover. Ireland had fallen to 228 for 5. Stuart Thompson struck a 25-ball 37 but Asghar Stanikzai's strategic use of pacer Dawlat Zadran helped Afghanistan keep Ireland in check.
Stanikzai had a great day himself, electing to bat and coming in at 94 for 2 after Mohammad Shahzad had walloped a 63 off 43 on a flat pitch. He put on 96 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah, whose 68 was his third consecutive fifty in ODIs, before launching into attack mode. He targeted Tim Murtagh and Peter Chase in particular, taking the pacers for a combined 51 off 19, and made 71 off 35 from the 37th over onwards to reach his maiden ton off 88 balls. He fell for 101 two balls later and was one of six wickets that Afghanistan lost in the last five overs. Three of them fell to Stirling in the last over, including Shafiqullah, whose 17-ball 35 put the finishing touches on Afghanistan's total.