Ireland will seek to pose a stiff challenge to Afghanistan in the latter’s newly-adopted home of Dehradun in the foothills of the Himalayas during the course of the next five weeks where they play three T20Is, five ODIs and one Test. That said, they will also be well aware of the challenges ahead in that endeavour, especially factoring in Afghanistan’s strength in spin and Indian tracks’ assistance to them.
The linchpin in that being Rashid Khan.
Rashid has been the main difference between Afghanistan and Ireland when the two sides have met in the past. Not that it is a deduction being made, but an observation from Paul Stirling, the Irish T20I skipper. Given how often the two sides have taken on each other in the past, over-familiarity will definitely be a standout, and hence the need to keep Rashid at bay, with Ireland well-aware of the impact he can have on the outcome of a game.
Ireland will be led by Stirling for the T20Is in the absence of Gary Wilson – who is recuperating from a vision-related ailment diagnosed in December 2018 – before William Porterfield takes over for the ODIs and the Test. Ireland arrived in India after a dramatic last-ball win over the Netherlands in the T20 Quadrangular Series in Oman, and will be high on confidence and momentum as a result.
Afghanistan’s last international assignment was the Asia Cup in September last year. However, their players have been plying their trade in various T20 leagues around the world, giving them important game-time, and with their biggest stars having played in the IPL before, the experience will come in more than handy.
When: February 21, 2019 at 18:30 IST
Where: Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun
What to expect: Showers are forecast for tomorrow, albeit in spells, but all day. It could impact the game, maybe even result in a washout. If not, the overcast conditions will play a major role in the composition of both teams.
Afghanistan: ‘Keeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad has been left out of the T20s, but will make his way back for the remainder of the tour. All-rounder Sahrafuddin Ashraf has been named for the T20Is, while left-arm wrist-spinner, Zahir Khan, has been named in both the ODI and T20I squads. Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Zia-Ur-Rehman was named in a spin-heavy T20I side. But all eyes will be on rookie Hazratullah Zazai, a hard-hitting batsman spotted during Afghanistan’s domestic T20 league held in the UAE, who has been named for the limited-overs series.
Ireland: Ireland has fresh faces in 19-year-old Harry Tector, Shane Getkate and Joshua Little, the all-rounders, who also were part of the Quandrangular series earlier in Oman, along with Lorcan Tucker, the 22-year old wicketkeeper-batsman. That aside, their experienced T20 campaigners in George Dockrell, Kevin O Brien, Boyd Rankin among others, will feature in the XI.
Whar they said:
“We have played them a lot over the last few years. We know what to expect and hopefully we can go out with a positive mindset. I think Afghanistan have gone better in the T20 stuff of late, though we know what they bring. They have very good spinners and a batting line-up that really comes hard against us.” – Paul Stirling
Squads: Ireland: Paul Stirling (Captain), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Harry Tector, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan(C), Usman Ghani, Najeeb Tarakai, Hazratullah Zazai, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Farid Malik, Sayed Shirzad, Zia ur Rahman Sharifi, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Zahir Khan and Sharafuddin Ashraf
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