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So that is all from here at Stormont! An emphatic victory for the Irish. They will now look to win the 2nd game and seal the series on Tuesday, 21st of May. That game will begin at 1045 local (0945 GMT). Join us for the coverage of the same to find out whether Afghanistan can come back harder in the second game and level in the series or not. Till then it is goodbye from us. Take care and cheers!
Victorious Ireland skipper, William Porterfield says that they have played good cricket in patches over the past month but admits that this was a pleasing performance, especially winning by 70-80 runs. Tells that he has built a good relationship with Stirling over the years and it is always good to bat with him. Mentions that they felt that the score was a bit under par and during the start of the defense, they were not bowling well but came back into the game and won it comprehensively in the end.
Afghanistan skipper, Gulbadin Naib says that the bowlers did their job but their batting was not good. Credits the way Ireland bowled and never let them get away. Also praises Stirling and Porterfield for their stand which took Ireland to that total.
Well, not much cannot be said about the batting of Afghanistan as a highest score of 29 will never be good enough. All the batsmen struggled against the right line and lengths bowled by the Irish bowlers. When you get bowled out and five batsmen get single-digit scores, you are always going to be in trouble. That is exactly what happened and Afghanistan slid to a horrific defeat here in Belfast. The captains' thoughts to follow...
The bowling performance was started off brilliantly by Tim Murtagh and Andy McBrine who bowled economically as well as picked two wickets in their opening spell. There on, the pressure was unrelenting and Mark Adair added the gloss on the performance picking up 4 wickets of his own. Boyd Rankin had a tough opening spell but his captain kept him on and he proved the worth with 3 wickets in the middle stages which put Ireland on the top in this game.
This has been an incredible bowling performance from the hosts but on the other hand, a very poor batting show from the away side, Afghanistan. They never got going in the chase of a total that looked under par on that wicket. They were too cautious in the beginning and lost wickets too while playing extremely slowly. They did have a decent stand in the middle when Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Afghan stitched 54 runs together and brought some hopes of a win back but once that was broken, eventually the pressure got to them and they kept losing wickets post that, crumbling to a defeat. Ireland though must be credited for the right lines and lengths that they bowled, never letting the visitors get any sort of advantage in the chase.
35.4MAdair to UrRahman
OUT! Caught and bowled! It is all over here! IRELAND WIN BY 72 RUNS!!! A remarkable catch to bring the game to an end. A fuller ball on middle, Mujeeb hits the ball back to the bowler who gets his arm up in front of his face and holds onto the sharp return catch. Mujeeb cannot believe this. Meanwhile, Adair picks up his 4th wicket! We cannot believe this, Afghanistan have blown up a chase of 210 and fallen to a demoralizing loss.
35.3MAdair to UrRahman
Fuller one on middle first up to Mujeeb, he hits it firmly to mid on who makes a good tumbling stop. He even throws the ball back in anger at the non-striker's end.
35.2MAdair to GNaib
OUT! That could be the final nail in the Afghanistan coffin. Naib holes out at long on trying to smash his way to a win. A length ball on off, Gulbadin wants to hit a maximum over the bowler's head but fails to get enough power on that ball as it goes off the inside. It goes high and the substitute fielder, Kane there settles under the ball and takes a very good, calm catch! Just one away now from the win are Ireland!
35.1MAdair to GNaib
Defended off the back foot by Naib to this ball on a length outside off.
34.6BRankin to AAlam
FOUR! Shot! Aftab Alam had no half-measures there. A short of a length ball on middle, Alam pulls this through mid-wicket. The ball raced away to the fence. Brilliant shot, just swung through the line.
34.5BRankin to AAlam
Back of a length outside off, Aftab pushes the ball towards backward point after getting out of the way.
34.4BRankin to AAlam
Aftab Alam defends the ball with a straight bat.
34.3BRankin to GNaib
Gulbadin pushes the ball through point for a single.
34.2BRankin to GNaib
Poor ball! On the pads, Naib has nudged the ball fine down the leg side. The ball races to the boundary. Four runs have been signalled by The Umpire.
34.1BRankin to GNaib
Back of a length outside off, Naib gets it off the outside half to the left of point. Two runs taken.
33.6MAdair to AAlam
Outside off on a length, Aftab looks to hit the ball outside off but is beaten.
33.5MAdair to GNaib
Pulled away to deep mid-wicket by Naib for a run.
33.4MAdair to AAlam
This ball is hit towards mid on uppishly by Alam and the ball lands just short. That could have been out had the fielder reacted a bit more quickly there. A single is taken as the batsmen run through.
33.3MAdair to GNaib
A misfield slight one by Dockrell at cover means the batsmen can pick up a single.
33.2MAdair to GNaib
Defended towards the offside by GN.
33.1MAdair to GNaib
FOUR! Good effort but in vain! A short length ball on middle, Naib pulls this away through mid-wicket. The fielder chases it, dives to keep it in but the effort goes in vain as the body was in contact with the rope at the same time as the ball.
Mark Adair comes back on now.
32.6BRankin to AAlam
Outside off, Aftab wanted to play that ball but lets it alone in the end.
32.5BRankin to AAlam
Defended off the front foot by the new batsman presenting the full face of the bat.
Aftab Alam walks in at number 10.
32.4BRankin to DZadran
OUT! Third wicket for Rankin! The wheels are coming off really hard here for the visitors. A short length ball on middle, Zadran looks to pull this but gets a top edge. The ball lobs towards the keeper, Gary Wilson who takes the simplest of catches. This has been one big turnaround from the hosts!
32.3BRankin to DZadran
On a length on middle, pushed defensively back to the bowler.
32.2BRankin to DZadran
Back of a length on off, Zadran defends the ball towards cover. Looks for a quick single but it would have been suicidal.
Drinks break. Ireland are cruising at the moment. With 91 needed off 107 balls. This is surely Ireland's game to lose now. They are just 3 wickets away from sealing this game here. Dawlat Zadran will walk out to bat after the break.
32.1BRankin to RKhan
OUT! The seventh one goes down! Afghanistan are now in a huge spot of bother. Rashid Khan departs now. A short ball outside off, Rashid looks to hit it over mid off but fails to time it. It goes straight to William Porterfield at mid off who makes no mistake. Ireland will now feel really in the driver's seat! Gulbadin Naib would be the only one who can really take the game away from them now onward.
31.6KO'Brien to RashidKhan
31.6: K O'Brien to R Khan, Rashid will keep the strike. He strokes the last ball to long on and gets a run.
31.5KO'Brien to RashidKhan
31.5: K O'Brien to R Khan, SIX! Second six in the over and Rashid is playing the way he knows to play. As they say attack is the best form of defence. Rashid gets another full ball on off, this time he smashes it over the long off fence for a six.
31.4KO'Brien to RashidKhan
31.4: K O'Brien to R Khan, On the stumps, Rashid blocks it with a straight bat.
31.3KO'Brien to RashidKhan
31.3: K O'Brien to R Khan, Good length ball on off, Rashid hits it straight to cover.
31.2KO'Brien to RashidKhan
31.2: K O'Brien to R Khan, Back of a length ball on off, Rashid pulls it wide of the fielder at deep mid-wicket for a couple.
31.1KO'Brien to RashidKhan
31.1: K O'Brien to G Naib, SIX! That's out of here! Full length ball on off, it is in Rashid's zone. He whacks it over the mid-wicket fence for a biggie.
30.6BRankin to RashidKhan
Another length ball on middle, Rashid blocks it off his front foot and takes a single as the ball goes towards cover.
30.5BRankin to RKhan
Back of a length ball on off, Khan defends it with straight bat.
30.4BRankin to RKhan
Another incoming delivery on middle and leg, Rashid cannot do much but just block it.
30.3BRankin to RKhan
Length ball on the body, Rashid cannot do much but just block it.
Rashid Khan walks out to bat.
30.2BRankin to AAfghan
OUT! Boyd Rankin strikes. Ireland have got the wicket they were looking for. Good length ball pitching on off. It comes in after hitting the deck. Afghan looks to defend but gets beaten by the inward movement. The ball hits him on his knee roll. The Irish players all go up in appeal and the umpire slowly raises his finger.
30.1BRankin to GNaib
A length delivery on middle and leg, Gulbadin Naib flicks it to fine leg for a run.
29.6KO'Brien to GNaib
29.6: K O'Brien to G Naib, Single to end the over. On the pads, Naib flicks it down the leg side for a run.