Our prediction is Afghanistan will win the match!
Ireland team has played a lot of ODIs against top-ranked nations such as England, West Indies and Bangladesh. This experience will do them a world of good in enriching their players. Now, they take on Afghanistan team who are almost in the same level to the Ireland team. Paul Stirling (207 runs), Andy Balbirnie (184 runs) and Kevin O Brien (134 runs) were the leading run scorers for Ireland in the recently concluded tri-series. Skipper William Porterfield scored 94 in their last match against Bangladesh and put on a record 174-run partnership with Paul Stirling.
Their bowlers were not able to put a lid on the scoring rate in batting friendly conditions. Boyd Rankin was the pick of the bowlers and he took 5 wickets in the series. Barry McCarthy and Mark Adair chipped in with wickets but were not economical giving away a lot of freebies. Spinner George Dockrell failed to take even a single wicket in the three matches he played.
Afghanistan team will look to build some momentum by winning this series before the World cup 2019. Afghanistan is a team that is known to punch well above their weights and put a show against any team. Gulbadin Naib has taken over the captaincy duties of the team. He led them to a 1-0 series win against Scotland recently.
Rahmat Shah scored a brilliant century to help his team chase a rain-curtailed score. Mohammed Shahzad and Hashmatullah Shahidi played good cameos and scored their respective fifties at either end of the innings. Skipper Naib took 3 wickets in his quota of 10 overs and he was well supported by the likes of Aftab Alam and Hamid Hasan with two wickets each. Their regular bowlers Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Mujeeb did not play the last game but are expected to play this match.
Paul Stirling – Stirling has scores of 77 & 130 in the last two ODIs he played in the Tri-series. He is in a purple patch and will look to extend it with lots of runs. He can also be a handy bowler in the middle overs.
Boyd Rankin – Rankin had figures of 3/65 & 2/48 in the two ODIs he played. He needs to aggressive and looks for wickets with the ball in these batting friendly conditions. He is the most experienced player on the Irish side.
William Porterfield (c), Kevin O Brien, Gary Wilson (wk), Paul Stirling, George Dockrell, Tim Murtagh, Andrew Balbirnie, Mark Adair, Boyd Rankin, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum
James McCollum, Kevin O'Brien, Mark Richard Adair, Andy McBrine, GC Wilson, WTS Porterfield, Paul Stirling, WB Rankin, Tim Murtagh, George Dockrell, Andy Balbirnie
Rashid Khan – Rashid Khan is the biggest player to come from Afghan ranks and he is a prodigy known to the entire cricketing world. He will look to help his team make good noises in the international stage and will be eager to perform well.
Mohammed Shahzad– Shahzad is an attacking batsman who can take any bowling attack on his day. His attacking style at the top can yield excellent results in these batting-friendly conditions in the UK.
Hamid Hassan, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib (c), Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Mohammed Nabi, Hazratullah Zazai
Hashmatullah Shahidi, Aftab Alam, Asghar Afghan, Gulbadin Naib, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hazratullah Zazai, Rashid Khan, M Shahzad, Dawlat Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmat Shah
Belfast pitch has traditionally been a bowling friendly pitch but now all the pitches across the UK are tilted in favor of the batsmen. So, we expect a pitch with some balance between the bat and ball. We can expect scores in a range of 280 runs. The weather does not look promising with 60% chances of rain.
Teams are chasing down any target set in front of them and no target is safe nowadays. With rain threat looming, batting second puts you in a better position to win the match.
Afghanistan team has been winning many matches against top-ranked teams consistently off late and they have a good record at this ground too. Ireland has now lost 4 matches in a row in their home ground and is struggling to find momentum. So, we expect Afghanistan to win this match.
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