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Afghanistan Edge Out Ireland To Level T20I Series

Led by captain Rashid Khan, Afghanistan proved too strong for Ireland with the ball as they won the second T20 international of their three-match series by 10 runs in Sharjah on Friday. Afghanistan’s victory ties up the series 1-1 as Ireland’s multi-format tour against Afghanistan approaches its end. A valiant knock of 39 off 18 balls by Gareth Delany was in vain as Ireland failed to score the 18 runs necessary off the last over to win. One six was not enough as the penultimate ball was stopped for no run and the last saw Delany caught on the boundary off Fazalhaq Farooqi.

The visitors started their run chase of 153 strongly as opening pair Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling put on a 49-run stand, before Stirling’s dismissal in the sixth over.

The Irish captain was followed by Lorcan Tucker for 10 and a first-baller for Harry Tector, both courtesy of star spinner Khan, and Ireland’s run chase halted.

When Balbirnie was dismissed lbw by Nangeyalia Kharote on 45 with just 5.1 overs left, it left Ireland’s tail with too much to do, despite Delany’s late heroics.

Khan took four wickets for just 14 runs and his double-wicket 16th over effectively won the match for the hosts when he saw off George Dockrell and Mark Adair.

Afghanistan earlier won the toss and elected to bat first, putting on a total of 152-9 in their 20 overs.

Mohammad Nabi top-scored for the hosts with 59 off 38, including six fours and three sixes, before he was caught by Stirling from Ben White’s bowling.

Adair was the pick of the Irish bowlers and finished with figures of 3-27 as Afghanistan’s top order struggled, with numbers four and five Mohammad Ishaq and Azmatullah Omarzai both collecting golden ducks.

Opener Sediqullah Atal was the only out-and-out batter to offer serious resistance but was run out on 35 to leave Afghanistan 93-5 with 6.5 overs remaining.

However, Khan steadied the ship at number nine, with a fine knock of 25 from 12 balls that took Afghanistan over 150.

Josh Little also put on another good performance with the ball after his three wickets in Friday’s first T20I and bowled opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the second over.

The final match of the tour takes place on Monday in Sharjah with it all to play for as Ireland look to add a T20I series win to their Test victory, after Afghanistan claimed the ODI series earlier in March.

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