Afghanistan beat Ireland in first T20I
Afghanistan beat Ireland in their first of three Twenty20s on Friday as Najibullah Zadran smashed an unbeaten 42 in a rain-affected fixture in India.
Ireland, in their 1,000th “capped” match since 1855, made 172 for six as Paul Stirling smashed a quick-fire 60 and fellow opener Kevin O’Brien 35.
Indian Premier League spin star Rashid Khan took three wickets as he restricted the Irish after Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Shapoor Zadran leaked runs.
Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz got Afghanistan off to a solid start before offspinner Simi Singh had both leg before for 23 and 28 respectively.
Karim Janat and Asghar Afghan were run out cheaply but Samiullah Shinwari and Shapoor Zadran steadied the ship before rain halted play at 133 for 5 off 15 overs.
This was enough for Afghanistan to be adjudicated the winner by 11 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Injured Ireland quick Mark Adair was replaced for the series by Shane Getkate, the only change to the squad that secured a 1-1 draw in the West Indies in January.
Ireland’s head coach Graham Word was also absent after injuring himself in an accident at home, with Rob Cassell stepping in as acting replacement.
“There’s no shying away from the fact that Afghanistan have had our number in T20 Internationals,” skipper Andrew Balbirnie said before the match.
“I can’t honestly remember the last time we beat them in this format. We’ve certainly got a point to prove against these guys.”
For Afghanistan, left-arm quick Zadran rejoined the squad that includes legspinner Qais Ahmad, 19, who floored a shocked Andre Russell with a bouncer in the recent Big Bash.
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