Ireland’s massive challenge against Afghanistan’s spin trio
Afghanistan to win
Afghanistan would make return to ODI cricket after a gap of more than a year where they take on Ireland in the first game of the 3-match ODI series. The Afghan side would be confident playing in these conditions and many of their players are coming here after good performance in the Big Bash League. The Irish side didn’t look at their best during the two games against UAE though they registered a big win in the last game of the series.
The challenge for the Irish side would be the conditions where the ball turns sharply as they would be up against three world class spinners. Most of their batsmen have struggled against good spinners in the past and this will be a huge test for them. It remains to be seen if Ireland is able to live up against the odds as Afghanistan is one of the most competitive sides in this format of the game.
Asghar Afghan is back as skipper as he leads his side into this game. The Afghan players would be taking the field for the first time in an ODI game in nearly 13 months and shall be eager to succeed. Afghan would like to make good use of these conditions as these suits their style of play. Ireland would compete hard and the Afghanistan skipper would want his players to put up their best show in this game.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz comes back to the side and he will be expected to provide a good start with Najibullah Zadran. In the middle order the side has good experience with Asghar Afghan and Rahmat Shah. They will need to do the scoring along with Usman Ghani. Mohammad Nabi and Gulbbadin Naib will have to put their hitting abilities to good use down the order in this game.
With the ball the side would be expecting good start from Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Yamin Ahmadzai as Ireland has good firepower at the top. Nabi and Rashid Khan would need to make good use of the conditions and they would be the bowlers to watch out for the side. With Naib and Rahmat Shah in the bowling setup they have the attack to trouble the Irish side.
Asghar Afghan (c), Rahmat Shah, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Usman Ghani, Gulbbadin Naib, Yamin Ahmadzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sayed Shirzad
Asghar Afghan, Javed Ahmadi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmanullah Gurbaz
Andrew Balbirnie’s side did well in the last game of their series against United Arab Emirates to level the series after losing the first game. The skipper would be disappointed with the series being hit by Covid-19 scare that led to the abandonment of two games. Afghanistan would be a tougher side to beat in these conditions and the skipper would want his boys to rise to this challenge.
Openers Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien will have to play a lead role in this game being the most experienced players in the squad. In the middle order the side has good talent with Balbirnie, Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker who have runs under their belt in recent games. The side bats deep with Curtis Campher and Simi Singh showing their talent in the last game scoring half centuries.
Their bowlers would be put to test by the strong Afghan batting line-up. Barry McCarthy and Craig Young bowled well in the last game with the new ball while Singh came up with one of the best performances in ODIs ever with his 5 for 10 from 10 overs in the last game. Campher, Mark Adir and Kevin O’Brien would have to play good supporting acts in this game during the middle overs for the side to win.
Andrew Balbirnie (c), Paul Stirling, Kevin O Brien, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, Simi Singh, Mark Adir, Barry McCarthy, Craig Young
Kevin O'Brien, Simi Singh, Andy McBrine, Craig Young, Curtis Campher, Paul Stirling, Barry McCarthy, Lorcan Tucker, Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Andy Balbirnie
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||19||0 mm.||1.33 k/h||From: NW||0%|
|03h||20||0 mm.||1.4 k/h||From: SW||0%|
|06h||22||0 mm.||2.51 k/h||From: SSW||0%|
|09h||22||0 mm.||6.9 k/h||From: WNW||0%|
|12h||21||0 mm.||8.68 k/h||From: NW||16%|
|15h||20||0 mm.||10.38 k/h||From: NW||24%|
|18h||20||0 mm.||10.72 k/h||From: NW||14%|
|21h||19||0 mm.||10.95 k/h||From: NW||0%|
The skies over Abu Dhabi would be clear on January 21 and we would have a good game on our hands. The pitch has been on the slower side in the last two games and we expect a similar wicket here. Fast bowlers wouldn’t find much on the surface but spinners would do well. A score in excess of 280 runs would be a good one on this surface.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi is one of the biggest grounds in UAE and this doesn’t allow the batsmen to free their arms. They need to play their strokes and run hard between the wickets. Fast bowlers have generally struggled on this wicket in the past but spinners enjoy these conditions as there is lot of assistance for them.
In the two games that were played here between UAE and Ireland the pitch looked slower than its original character and batsmen have found it hard to time the ball. Chasing scores is never a problem in these conditions and hence the side that wins the toss in this game is likely to opt for bowling first.
Ireland would be facing a tough challenge as they take on a confident Afghan side in this game. They have got used to the conditions playing against UAE but there are still some issues as far as consistency of their top order is concerned. Afghanistan on the other would be confident playing in these conditions as they have a quality spin attack and this would make them confident here in this game.
Afghanistan to win