The pitches have also seemed to offer a little more spin in the last couple of games, so it's been about trying to deceive batsmen more with lateral movement than with depthGEORGE DOCKRELL
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Andy Balbirnie was the star of the Ireland show as they trumped Afghanistan by four wickets in the third ODI in Dehradun, his 145 not out helping the Irish go over the line with an over to spare to level the series. But Balbirnie needed support, and it came from somewhat unexpected quarters: George Dockrell, who has made his name as a left-arm spinner, added 143 runs for the fifth wicket with Balbirnie.
"I obviously came into the team as a bowler, but these days it is important to keep improving all aspects of your game. I was a batter at under-age level, and I've been encouraged to keep working on my batting over the years, but the way I see it now is that all three aspects - my batting, my bowling, my fielding - they all have to be as good as they can possibly be at all times," Dockrell told Cricket Ireland after hitting only his second half-century in 80 ODIs.
"The game definitely has developed in the last number of years - you look at teams around the world and you see there are guys coming in lower down the order winning matches. That's what you have to have - a batting line-up that bats deep. There's not too many bowlers around the world these days who can't play a little cameo with the bat, so it is more and more important these days that bowlers coming into the team are looking to add value with the bat as well as the ball."
At their new 'home' in the northern part of India, the Afghans would have backed their chances of going 2-0 up after three games - the second one was abandoned by rain - when Najibullah Zadran's 104 not out and Asghar Afghan's 75 helped them put up 256 for 8. Batting was expected to get tougher after that, but as Balbirnie and Dockrell showed, it was mainly a matter of application and approach.
"There's a different challenge here in India where we have a slightly bigger pitch, and the pitch has spun a little bit," Dockrell said. "The wickets here in Dehradun are changing as the series is going on. Because the series is being played at the one stadium, we are reusing wickets, which has meant that they have tended to become a bit slower and a little bit lower.
"The pitches have also seemed to offer a little more spin in the last couple of games, so it's been about trying to deceive batsmen more with lateral movement than with depth."
And though Afghanistan swept the preceding series 3-0 and were tipped to outperform Ireland in the ODIs quite comprehensively, expect the Irish to put up a strong show in the format they are best at.
"In the T20s the Afghans showed some pretty incredible power-hitting that we weren't able to keep up with, it was a huge challenge trying to minimise their batsmen and their ability to strike the ball. We went in to those games with our plans - and back-up plans - to counteract their attack, but the biggest learning we had was the need to be able to adapt quickly," Dockrell said.
"The ODIs are definitely a format that suit us - there's always good games when we play the Afghans in ODIs, and there has indeed been some good games so far in this series."
The fourth ODI will be played on Friday, and the fifth is scheduled for Sunday, with a Test to follow later this month.