AFGHANISTAN TOUR OF IRELAND
Mohammad Shahzad composed a quickfire hundred © Getty
Mohammad Shahzad’s century and a fine bowling show by Gulbadin Naib helped Afghanistan level the two-match series against Ireland with a 126-run win in the second ODI. The opener scored his sixth ODI ton – 101 off 88 – helping the visitors post 305 for 7 in Belfast before Naib picked up six, his career-best figures, to shoot Ireland down for 179.
With a tall chase ahead of them, James McCollum’s struggle early on didn’t help Ireland. He fell for 3 off 16. Andrew Balbirnie and Paul Stirling got the chase going with a 48-run stand. Balbirnie’s wicket led to a wobble as Ireland soon slipped to 119 for 6 from 77 for 1. Stirling scored a half-century but failed to carry on as Ireland lost momentum really quickly and never recovered from the collapse.
Earlier in the day, after being put in, Shahzad made his intentions pretty clear as he charged down the track and smashed a boundary on the very first ball. Noor Ali Zadran didn’t last long and was dismissed for 5 before Rahmat Shah and Shahzad built the platform with a 150-run second-wicket stand. The opener reached his half-century off 40 balls as the visitors cruised past 100 inside 18 overs.
Shah played his role to perfection, rallying around Shahzad with his 62 before falling in the 32nd over. Shahzad’s wicket five balls later dented Afghanistan’s progress as they were once again forced to rebuild instead of scoring freely. Andy McBrine’s twin strikes in the over gave Ireland the stronghold they were desperately searching for after being put on the back foot. It was not all doom and gloom for Afghanistan as Shahzad sounded the warning bells prior to the World Cup with his sixth ODI ton off 85 balls.
From 175 for 1, Afghanistan slipped to 212 for 5 but were propped up by Hashmatullah Shahidi (47) and Najibullah Zadran, who ended unbeaten on 66 and lifted the side when they really needed it.
Brief scores: Afghanistan305/7 in 50 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 101; Andy McBrine 2-43) beat Ireland179 in 41.2 overs (Paul Stirling 50; Gulbadin Naib 6-43) by 126 runs.