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06-Mar-2020 13:00:00 GMT
Afg v Ire - 1st T20I, Noida

Najibullah, Rashid star in Afghanistan rain-affected win

Greater Noida: Afghanistan were 11 runs ahead on DLS when rain stopped play 15 overs into their chase of 173, giving them a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series against Ireland.

Najibullah Zadran struck a rapid 21-ball 42, adding 63 runs for the fifth wicket with Samiullah Shinwari (28), before the latter fell on the last ball of the 15th over to Boyd Rankin.

It started to pour down heavily thereafter, and and no further play was possible.

Afghanistan had a breezy start to the chase with openers Hazratullah Zazai (23 off 15) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28 off 13) putting on 54 in a mere 4.3 overs, before all-rounder Simi Singh's off breaks got the better of both in quick succession. He then showcased his brilliance in the field, catching Afghanistan skipper Asghar Afghan short of his crease, who went back without facing a ball.

Karim Janat (6) too, was run out, leaving his team in a tricky position of 70/4 in the eighth over.

It was at this point Zadran and Shinwari joined forces with the former leading the way, striking three fours and two sixes during his 21-ball stay.

Brief scores:
Afghanistan 133 for 5 (Target 123 in 15 ov) (Najibullah 42*, Simi Singh 2-18) beat Ireland 172 for 6 (Stirling 60, O'Brien 35, Rashid Khan 3-22) by 11 runs (D/L method)

Earlier, Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien got Ireland off to a flier after skipper Any Balbirnie opted to bat.

The pair hit nine balls to the fence and two over it, adding 63 runs for the first wicket within the Powerplay, before O'Brien was castled by Mujeeb Ur Rahman for a breezy 17-ball 35.

That though, didn't deter Ireland's progress, as Balbirnie (29) joined Stirling in a 48-run stand, during which the latter got to his 18th T20I fifty.

However, Rashid Khan removed both in quick succession to bring Afghanistan back into the contest. That took him past Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul to break into top five for most wickets in the format. He got one more to finish with 3/22 from his four over spell, before Harry Tector's late blitz helped Ireland finish at 172/6 after 20 overs.

Tector finished with unbeaten 29 off 17, striking three fours and a six.

The second game of the three-match series will be played at the same venue on Sunday, 8 March.


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