Belfast (Ireland) Belfast (Ireland), Aug 13 : Ireland’s middle order batter George Dockrell struck his maiden T20I half-century, but the hosts did end in losing the game in the third by 22 runs.Afghanistan came back from two consecutive defeats to enjoy victory in the series of five matches on Saturday (IST).The top four batters the impressive score of 189/5.Ireland were soon cut to 36/4 in their run chase.
The hosts were looking to be in and out of the match at 85/7 in the 13th over however, Dockrell (58 not out of 37 balls) and debutant Fionn Hand (36 off 18) kept Ireland’s hopes alive with an eighth wicket partnership that was worth 74 — only six runs less of the world record eight wicket stand in T20I cricket according to Cricket Ireland.However, in the end, Afghanistan held on to celebrate their first victory of the series, making it 1-2 after just three games.
Afghanistan quickly put aside a gruelling display with the bat in the second T20I11 runs off Mark Adair’s opening over laid the stage for an opening partnership of 90 runs between Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai.
Gurbaz was the player with the most swagger on the upper end of the order with eight fours and six on his way to a half-century of 31 balls, the milestone was reached with the last ball of the 10th over.
Ireland were finally in a position to celebrate in the 12th over when Gurbaz hit into Josh Little — the ball smashed into the outside of the bat before rising up into the air before falling to the safety of Adair in the third.After a couple of overs later, Hand was happy to take his first wicket in international cricket with Zazai getting Paul Stirling at short third who took a great Tumbling catch towards his left.
However, the absence of openers didn’t deter Afghanistan, with Ibrahim Zadran taking over in an enthralling cameo– he struck a lightning-fast 36 before a failed stroke to the leg-side was able to guide an Little delivery into the wicketkeeper.
Set a lofty goal of 191, Ireland found themselves in difficulty fast in the pursuit, falling Stirling to one duck in the first overThe right-hander was unable to make the most of an entire toss, delivering Fazalhaq Farooqi and Usman Ghani at cover.
A couple of innings after that, Farooqi was celebrating the wicket of the other Irish opener Balbirnie.Balbirnie was also a victim of the full toss, cutting wide to the backward point, leaving for one.
Brief score: Afghanistan 189/5 in 20 overs (R Gurbaz 53, N Zadran 42; J Little 2/29) beat Ireland 167/9 in 20 overs (G Dockrell 58 not out, F Hand 36; F Farooqi 2/11) by 22 runs.