Afghanistan v Ireland, 3rd ODI, Greater Noida March 19, 2017

Stirling, Balbirnie keep series alive for Ireland


Ireland 265 for 4 (Stirling 99, Balbirnie 85*, Dawlat 2-52) beat Afghanistan 264 for 8 (Rashid 56, Naib 51, Shafiqullah 50*, Murtagh 2-49) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Andy Balbirnie's unbeaten 85 was Ireland's first middle-order fifty in the series © Associated Press

Ireland's hankering for a resistant middle order was finally satisfied by Andy Balbirnie, as the right-handed batsman struck his fourth half-century - an unbeaten 85 off 74 balls - to take them to a six-wicket victory in the third ODI. It was their first victory of the tour and kept the series alive at 2-1 with two ODIs to go.

At least two of Ireland's top three had scored fifties in the first two ODIs. That pattern was quickly erased by Dawlat Zadran who dismissed Ed Joyce and William Porterfield off consecutive overs to reduce Ireland to 24 for 2 by the end of the sixth. But Paul Stirling continued to stand in their way, cutting out the risks early as he dug in to put on 96 for the third wicket with Niall O'Brien (30), and got to his third-consecutive ODI fifty in the process. He put on a further 59 with Balbirnie for the fourth wicket, before falling one run short of another hundred. This time, he missed a straight one from Mohammad Nabi and lost his off stump. His wicket, however, wouldn't bring another collapse. On the contrary, Ireland lost no further wickets. Gary Wilson's run-a-ball 28 did enough to complement his younger partner, who spearheaded the unbroken 86-run stand as he scored Ireland's first half-century from the middle-order in this series. Afghanistan dropped three catches to help Ireland along in the chase, but the neutralization of legspinner Rashid Khan, who went wicketless, will have made them feel most vulnerable. They did have Rashid to thank, however, for keeping them in the game in the first place.

A ten-ball first over from Peter Chase belied the start to come for Afghanistan. Chase and Tim Murtagh made run-scoring difficult for Afghanistan's top order on a slow pitch. By the 11th over, three of them had fallen playing away from the body, and one had swiped across the line. Mohammad Nabi was given the marching orders when Stuart Thompson got a finger on the ball before Samiullah Shenwari's straight drive broke the stumps at the non-striker's end. Afghanistan were reduced to 67 for 5 after electing to bat. Shenwari and Gulbadin Naib's painstaking 30-run stand for the sixth wicket ended nine overs later, leaving Afghanistan's lower order nearly 24 overs to contend with. Rashid and Naib played 16.1 of those and put on 97, getting fifties before falling in the space of four balls. Ireland wouldn't have minded that fight at 193 for 8, but Shafiqullah, who would've come in at No. 7 normally, struck a 28-ball 50 at No. 9 to set Ireland a target of 265.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • colm on March 21, 2017, 21:25 GMT

    @Wardakafg you could likewise take Rashid out of the game and I think we would chase all the totals in the ODI's and T20's he was that good...

  • Khalid on March 21, 2017, 15:40 GMT

    The only in form batsman on IRE side is Paul Sterling, if we could dismiss him in the early stages or the game, we should have the upper hand. Good luck to both team, looking forward for the 4th. ODI and see what happens.... Good luck blue tigers!!!

  • Cricinfouser on March 21, 2017, 1:00 GMT

    WARDAKAFG I do agree with changing Hamza but what if fareed malik is expensive due to the left hand batsmen Ireland have. it is difficult to say Noor Ali is good but he plays too slow as if he is playing a test. Usman Ghani and fareed malik needs to play this next game see how it goes.

  • Khalid on March 20, 2017, 19:58 GMT

    CRICINFOUSER: IRE have given everything they had in the last 3 ODI's. you think they did not give everything in the first and second ODI, yes they did. We will also give everything we have and whichever team wins wins... Afghanistan need to replace Noor Ali with Osman Ghani and Amir Hamza with Farid Ahmad. The rest look good.

  • Cricinfouser on March 20, 2017, 18:29 GMT

    The upcoming matches will be tough for Afghanistan coz Ireland will give it everything they have and winning the toss will make difference and if Afghanistan wants to wing they need to bat well and the openers need to contribute as well as the middle order. Noor Ali is really slow at making runs either bring in Usman Ghani or najib tarakai

  • zikeri2731371 on March 20, 2017, 6:54 GMT

    Irish team really did awesome, and kept the 05 ODI Series alive.

  •   Apurav Sood on March 20, 2017, 4:14 GMT

    i love Ireland team , best wishes from India

  • Khalid on March 20, 2017, 1:06 GMT

    Congratulations Ireland! You played really well and i wish you all the best on next games. Lots of love from Afghanistan.

  • geoffs8103821 on March 19, 2017, 22:29 GMT

    Alfers this should be cricket not political. Spread the game it's better for everyone.

  • geoffs8103821 on March 19, 2017, 21:25 GMT

    Dear alfers can I correct your points ecb allowed what was in effect an Ireland b team to play 40 overs cricket for two years on the back off the 2007 world cup never any first class games and the county's wouldn't release the likes of Morgan Rankin Porterfield etc. Ireland have been actively asking to play in England for years. Their is no analogy with Afghanistan but massive credit for the bcci allowing them to use India grounds as their own. As for security issues in Ireland I suggest you read your history try to be humble cricket is a game for everyone not a select few please publish. ..

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