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Tour and tournament reports

Afghanistan vs Ireland in India, 2019-20

A review of Afghanistan vs Ireland in India, 2019-20

Shadi Khan Saif
Rashid Khan celebrates a breakthrough  •  Abu Dhabi Cricket

Rashid Khan celebrates a breakthrough  •  Abu Dhabi Cricket

Twenty20 internationals (3): Afghanistan 2, Ireland 1
This exciting Twenty20 series finished the day before the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic, though India - which hosted the games - would not enter lockdown for another fortnight.
Afghanistan won 2-1, thanks to quality spin bowling, but continued to grapple with selection issues that had emerged before the 2019 World Cup. Even so, it was refreshing to see some young talent thrive.
The 18-year-old Rahmanullah Gurbaz was the only player on either side to top 100 runs overall, while leg-spinner Qais Ahmad, a year older, picked up three wickets in his first T20 international, including the prize scalp of Kevin O'Brien.
Familiar names prospered too. Rashid Khan took five wickets at 14, and conceded only a run a ball; Mujeeb Zadran also finished with five.
At times, Ireland struggled to adjust to the conditions in Greater Noida, and their opponents' high-class spin. Paul Stirling managed 60 off 41 balls in the first match - the only half-century in the series on either side - but no one totalled more than Harry Tector's 97 runs.
After losing the first two games, the Irish pinched the third following a super over, settled by O'Brien's last-ball six off Rashid - their first T20 victory over Afghanistan in their last 13 attempts stretching back to November 2013. It was a thrilling game, so it was a pity the cricket took place before such thin crowds.