Recent Match Report – Afghanistan vs Ireland 3rd T20I 2023/24

Afghanistan 155 for 7 (Ibrahim 72*, Ishaq 27) beat Ireland 98 (Campher 28, Omarzai 4-9, Naveen 3-10) by 57 runs

Ibrahim Zadran smashed an unbeaten 72, his highest T20I score, Azmatullah Omarzai took more wickets than the amount of runs he has scored in the entire series and Naveen-ul-Haq found himself in plenty of action on the field. As a result, Afghanistan won the third T20I against Ireland by 57 runs, and with it, came back from 1-0 down to win the series 2-1.

Ibrahim’s sixth T20I half-century took Afghanistan to 155, and Ireland’s chase was never on. Naveen struck twice and Fazalhaq Farooqi once to reduce them to 15 for 3 in the third over. There was a brief recovery when Harry Tector and Curtis Campher added 24, but that was that. Campher and Gareth Delany briefly gave hope when they countered from 46 for 5, but Ireland lost 5 for 16 in a lower-order collapse, as Omarzai bagged a career-best 4 for 9, and Naveen finished with 3 for 10.

Sloppy Delany all around

Ibrahim was on 10 when Delany dropped a simple catch off Campher in the sixth over. Placed at deep square leg, he didn’t move as much forward as he should have even while keeping his eyes on the skier.

When Delany came on to bowl the seventh over, he failed to collect a throw from short third, and allowed Sediqullah Atal an extra run. Next over, Delany dropped a difficult catch of Omarzai after turning around and running forward from point off Campher again. But on 1 at that point, Omarzai fell for 3 just two balls after. Then there was another misfield from Delany in the ninth over.

As if that was not enough, Ireland faced more misfortune – exactly like in the first T20I. Ben White had Mohammad Ishaq caught at deep midwicket in the 13th over, but the umpire ruled it to be a no-ball even as replays indicated that the heel, which was the first point of impact, had landed just behind the line. Ishaq was on 15 at the time, and went on to score 27, before a great catch by Paul Stirling off White had him caught in the 15th over.

Ibrahim powers Afghanistan

Coming into this game, Ibrahim’s T20I strike rate was just short of 105. But on Monday night, be scored his runs at 141. He had hit only one four in a sedate start before he was dropped, as he managed just 12 from his first 13 balls. But his next 38 deliveries saw him smash 60.

Ibrahim kept finding the occasional boundary during the fourth-wicket stand of 54 with Ishaq, while also ticking over singles and twos. He pulled and slog swept off White, and drilled Josh Little to extra cover after making room. But Ibrahim reserved two stylish shots for Mark Adair, whom he swatted wide over long-off for six, and scooped over short fine for four in the 18th over.

Naveen sets the tone in powerplay

Bowling the second over, Naveen’s first ball saw massive seam movement and extra bounce. The ball landed on a good length on sixth stump, but went on to hit the top of Andy Balbirnie’s leg stump. His second ball swung well in to bowl Lorcan Tucker for a golden duck. Fittingly, Naveen also cleaned White up to end Ireland’s innings for 98, this time foxing the batter with a slower ball.

Omarzai chips in with the ball

Omarzai came into the game after successive first-ball dismissals, and ended the series with only three runs to his name. But he got going with the ball. Moving one away from Tector, he had the batter caught at deep midwicket in the eighth over, before Ireland threatened to rebuild. In the tenth over, Omarzai spotted George Dockrell’s front leg was out of the way, and followed him by angling one in. Dockrell also ended up finding deep midwicket, where Naveen took his second catch.

With the game all but done, Omarzai had Adair chopping on before taking a return catch of Barry McCarthy – both in the 16th over. While the slowness of the pitch had Adair pulling early, Omarzai saw McCarthy skipping down, and went short to cramp him for room. A comfortable take to his left gave him four wickets, and Afghanistan the match.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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