Afghanistan beat Ireland by five wickets in first match of the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan ODI Cup to take a lead of 1-0 in the five-match series.
Having won the toss, Irish Captain William Porterfield opted to bat first. Soon after Ireland started to bat, Porterfield became the first of three wickets for mystery spin bowler Mujeeb ur Rahman McCollum who put on stellar bowling display ending with amazing figures of 14/3 off his 10 overs. Mujeeb was well supported by fast bowler, Dawlat Zadran, who made a comeback to the side after a period of almost one year. In today’s match, Dawlat also became the third Afghan bowler to take 100 wickets in ODIs after Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan.
All-rounder Gulbadin Naib also chipped in with two wickets while Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan claimed a wicket each as Ireland were bundled out for 161 runs in 49.2 overs, setting 162 runs for Afghanistan to chase in 50 overs.
Hazratullah Zazai, who jumped to No.7 in the new ICC T20I rankings after his record breaking 162* in the T20I series, was joined by Mohammad Shahzad as the opening duo put on 43 runs for the first wicket before Zazai lost his wicket courtesy of a great catch on the boundary line by Kevin O’Brien. Shahzad and Rahmat Shah continued the chase well on course before the former lost his wicket in the 23rd over to Boyd Rankin.
Shahzad’s departure followed quick wickets of the middle-order batsmen Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi opening a window of hope for Ireland to bounce back. Ireland’s brave attempt was thwarted by a stable partnership of 49 runs between skipper Asghar Afghan and Gulbadin Naib who was later declared Player of the match for his all-round performance. Naib complimented his great bowling with a terrific knock of 46 runs under pressure. The duo ensured that Afghanistan avoid a possible collapse to take a lead of 1-0 in the five-match ODI series.
Naib was pleased with the Man of the Match award and answering a question in the post-match press conference, he said: “I was sent to the crease when Afghanistan had lost three wicket and was given the task of staying at the wicket. I am happy to have achieved the task given to me by the captain and coach”.
Porterfield said that both Afghanistan and Ireland are competitive sides in ODIs and further added: “We always felt we had a chance after the fall of Afghanistan’s fourth wicket but then a good fifth-wicket partnership took the game away from us”.
The second match of the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan ODI Cup will be played on Saturday 2nd March 2019.