The Report by Hemant Brar
Afghanistan 165 for 5 (Naib 46, Shahzad 43, Rankin 2-48) beat Ireland 161 (Stirling 89, Mujeeb 3-14, Dawlat 3-35) by five wickets
Mujeeb Ur Rahman‘s three-wicket haul set up Afghanistan’s five-wicket win over Ireland in the first ODI in Dehradun. All three of his wickets came in his opening spell, during which he reduced Ireland to 14 for 3. The visitors couldn’t recover and were bowled out for 161 despite Paul Stirling‘s fighting 89. Afghanistan didn’t face much difficulty in their chase, getting over the line in the 42nd over.
William Porterfield opted to bat first but the Ireland batsmen had no clue against the guile of Mujeeb. Bowling with the new ball, Mujeeb struck with his third delivery of the match as Porterfield chopped a length ball on to the stumps.
Andy Balbrinie was the next to go. The batsman tried to sweep Mujeeb from outside off only to miss and get struck on the pads. Umpire S Ravi didn’t take long to raise his finger but replays showed the impact was outside the line of the off stump.
Off the very next ball, Mujeeb snared debutant James McCollum, who went back and across to a googly only to end up playing outside the line. This time there was no doubt about the lbw decision. Mujeeb’s figures at this point were 4-3-2-3.
The spinner could have had Stirling lbw in his next over but Ravi once again erred, this time benefitting Ireland. Apart from that call Stirling looked firm in defence, but the middle order – Kevin O’Brien, Simi Singh and Stuart Poynter – offered little resistance and soon Ireland were reeling at 69 for 6.
Stirling eventually found an ally in George Dockrell and the two added 76 for the seventh wicket in 15.2 overs. During their association, Stirling switched gears and hit Mohammad Nabi for sixes over long-on and deep midwicket. Rashid Khan broke the partnership in the 46th over, bowling Dockrell for 37 for his first wicket of the match.
Stirling hit back-to-back fours off Dawlat Zadran in the 49th over, the first a lofted off-drive and then a cheeky scoop over short fine leg, but was bowled in the next over as he moved too far across only to see a straight delivery clatter into the stumps.
Hazratullah Zazai began Afghanistan’s response positively, smashing Tim Murtagh for a six over long-on before clubbing two more fours in the bowler’s next over. However, the run-flow slowed after that and while trying to break the shackles, Zazai was caught off Barry McCarthy by O’Brien near long-on.
Mohammad Shahzad and Rahmat Shah took the side to 90 without taking any risks before Boy Rankin dismissed both in quick succession. And when Hashmatullah Shahidi fell to Simi, Afghanistan were 104 for 4, still 58 away from their target.
But with the asking rate always well under four, even the dot balls didn’t create enough pressure. Gulbadin Naib then swatted McCarthy for three fours – all towards midwicket – in the 37th over to put the issue beyond doubt. Soon after, he hit Rankin for two fours and a six before falling four short of his half-century. With nine required for victory, Najibullah Zadran smashed Dockrell for two sixes to seal the deal.