Inconsistent batting has tormented Ireland throughout their series against Afghanistan in Dehradun, and the visitors will be eager to address this with the series on the line in the fifth and final ODI on Sunday (March 10). Armed with a 2-1 series lead, Afghanistan will be aiming to register their fourth straight series win across formats against Ireland – with their last loss dating back to December 2017 – and enter the one-off Test next week with a lot of confidence.
Andrew Balbirnie’s unbeaten 145, along with George Dockrell’s 54, that set the platform for Ireland’s victory in the third ODI, and Paul Stirling’s 89 in a losing cause earlier in the series, are the only fifty-plus scores by Ireland in the ODI series while Afghanistan have had eight such individual scores (although three came in the abandoned third ODI), which underlines the difference between the teams. Despite managing to keep Rashid Khan relatively quiet, the Ireland batsmen haven’t fared all that well against the rest of the bowlers, with Mujeeb ur Rahman doing the bulk of the damage while Aftab Alam grabbed his opportunity in the previous game with a four-wicket haul.
While Ireland will be hoping for an improved effort with the bat, Afghanistan too will be hoping that their top-order batsmen give a better account of themselves as they have flattered to deceive thus far in the series. Asghar Afghan’s form augurs well for the hosts while they had Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan to thank for setting up a competitive total in the previous game, having been reduced to 81 for 6 at one stage. While the bowlers from both sides have done a decent job, it’s the batting of both teams – the entire batting department for Ireland and the top order for Afghanistan – that has been up and down.
When: Sunday, March 10 at 1:00 PM IST
Where: Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
What to expect: Ireland managing 260 in a chase of 257 in the third ODI was the highest total in this series, which means that the batsmen will be under the pump again on a wicket that has generally assisted the slower bowlers.
Afghanistan: The hosts will be sweating on the fitness of their skipper Asghar Afghan, who injured his shoulder after a collision with Stuart Poynter in the fourth ODI, and didn’t take the field when Ireland batted.
Ireland: Poynter and Simi Singh have both fared poorly with the bat so far in this series. Should Ireland contemplate changes, they could look at bringing in Lorcan Tucker and James McCollum.
What they said:
“We’ve just got to approach the game like we have done every other game in the series. We’ve lost one and bounced back, we’ve now just got to bounce back again. If we can negate a few individual errors over the 100 overs, then we’re not far off – William Porterfield.
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (c), Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Dawlat Zadran, Zahir Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Shapoor Zadran, Sayed Shirzad, Fareed Malik.
Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, James McCollum, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker, Stuart Thompson.