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Ireland hope to retaliate and overcome rampant Afghans

07 Mar 2020 CricBuzz

13-3. It's a massive skew, this Afghanistan-Ireland head-to-head in T20Is. It doesn't help Ireland that they keep playing each other a little too often. It further is of no help when in that one moment things seem to be in equilibrium, it starts to rain in Noida, in March, an entire quarter before it becomes normal to.

So on Friday (March 6), when Boyd Rankin knocked over a set Samiullah Shinwari after Najibullah Zadran was going bonkers at the other end to perhaps cause a flutter in the lower middle-order bound to come in next, there was hope. Alas, they didn't get to lose, they were rudely handed over one.

Ireland have impressed with the bat. Having had a good measure of the Indian pitches, thanks to their frequent visits, they now have found a decent formula to score, as shown by their openers in particular. It was quite a blatantly open approach on part of their entire batting lineup to play out their biggest nemesis - Rashid Khan - with utmost caution and compensate the lack of scoring off his four in the other sixteen. They'd love some of this application by their powerplay bowlers, who were all over the place to let Afghanistan off the hook early on.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, would equally love some discipline with the ball in the powerplay. It's not everyday that Mujeeb Ur Rahman is taken to the cleaners, but what was surprising was him looking completely clueless against the assault. Their quicks too would be hoping to tighten up at the death, given how easily the 20-year-old Harry Tector took them on.

There's enough context, and possibly even revenge then lined up for Sunday (March 8). But again, once again, it all comes down to how Ireland handle Rashid. Or simply, how many wickets they hand over to him.

When: Afghanistan vs Ireland, 2nd T20I, Sunday, March 8, 14:00 local

Where: Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground, Greater Noida

What to expect: Given just the one day turnaround between games, expect the pitch to have slowed down a touch. Although it hasn't rained since the evening it caused abandonment, there could be a bit of moisture early on which the captain winning the toss would look to exploit by bowling first. Nevertheless, expect another 160+ total.

Team news:

Afghanistan: They look quite settled. Historically, they aren't known to chop and change for no reason and there's no reason for them to either. They have followed a tried and tested formula in the T20Is for a while now, and most of their players did chip in with useful contributions the other afternoon.

Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Karim Janat, Asghar Afghan (c), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Shapoor Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Ireland: There might be a temptation to get an extra seamer into the mix, but they're likely to resist it and go in with the same XI. After all, nobody did badly enough to face the axe.

Probable XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin, Craig Young, Joshua Little


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