The summer of T20 international cricket continues on Tuesday when Ireland take on Afghanistan in the first of what will be five matches between the two as they both continue their preparations for the T20 World Cup in two months.
Ireland have been extremely active in T20 cricket in recent times taking on the likes of India, New Zealand and South Africa whereas this will be the first time Afghanistan have played a T20 since the Zimbabwe series seven weeks ago.
Although Ireland have been active in T20 cricket in recent times, they haven’t won any of the matches they have played against those three powerful nations. You would imagine this will be a series which gives them more of a chance to come out on top but it still won’t be easy because the recent hot spell over Northern Ireland will lead to dry wickets which should suit the visitors a lot more than the home side.
The one thing which dogged Ireland throughout the recent series is their death bowling. They just haven’t been able to stop sides plundering runs against them late on in their bowling effort. They might fare better in that discipline here but it is really something which looks like being an issue when they get to Australia later in the year. The positive is they bat deep and the wickets out in Australia should suit their batters.
You wouldn’t have expected Afghanistan to take a series like this lightly and they haven’t. Even though they have the Asia Cup later in the month they have named a strong squad for this series and will be out not just to fine tune their preparations for the T20 World Cup later in the year but also for an assault on the Asia Cup, which being in the UAE might well give them a chance of glory particularly as it is a T20 competition once again.
We know all about the spinners at the disposal of Afghanistan. Rashid Khan is the best in the business while Mujeeb and Mohammad Nabi are two regulars on the franchise scene. What has previously let them down on the global scene has been their seamers but the emergence of Naveen, who once again had a terrific Blast campaign lessens that weakness somewhat. If Afghanistan can put up sizeable runs they are going to be a force over the next couple of months.
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Ireland have named the same squad which they used for the series against South Africa last week and although they were well beaten in both of those matches they might just give the same XI the chance to show their quality once again.
Afghanistan have Rashid Khan, Mujeeb and Mohammad Nabi all available while Noor Ahmad is another available for selection. Ireland will also get the chance to see Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz who are potential world stars.
I think we might see a lower scoring match than expected here. When Ireland played New Zealand in a recent series here, although the first innings scores all went beyond 170, for much of the innings they were stumbling towards 150 but the terrible death bowling of Ireland allowed scores to be raised higher than they should have been. That makes me think that the run line of 314.5 is a little on the high side here.
There is no getting away from the fact that the Ireland death bowling is a concern when taking an under but there is no guarantee that Afghanistan will be in a position to take advantage of that. Their batting reaches all-rounders pretty early in the piece whereas I suspect Ireland will struggle against the spinners of Afghanistan. Ish Sodhi and Michael Bracewell dominated the Irish batters a few weeks ago and the Afghan quartet are of a higher quality than those. That is enough to make me take the under.
Back Under 314.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365