An amazing century by Andy Balbirnie helped Ireland level the series against Afghanistan in the third match of the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan ODI Cup in Dehradun. Balbirnie put on a match winning 143-run stand with George Dockrell to hand Ireland their first victory of the tour.
Earlier, Afghanistan skipper Asghar Afghan won the toss and opted to bat first. The Irish bowlers were impressive restricting Afghanistan to 79/4 at one point before a 117-run partnership between Skipper Asghar Afghan and Najibullah Zadran stabilized the innings. Afghan lost his wicket to Boyd Rankin for 75 in the 43rd over. Zadran who scored his maiden century in ODIs helped Afghanistan set up a competitive target of 257 runs for Ireland to chase in the allotted 50 overs
In response, Ireland lost wickets at regular intervals and at one point were struggling at 73/4 when Kevin O’Brien lost his wicket for 21 to Samiullah Shinwari. A match-changing partnership of 143 runs for the fifth wicket between Andy Balbirnie and George Dockrell set the tone for Ireland which was ultimately broken by Mohammad Nabi in the 43rd over of the chase when he got George Dockrell stumped out for 54 runs. Dockrell’s wicket was quickly followed by another when Rashid Khan sent Stuart Poynter back to the pavilion.
Andy Balbirnie, on the other hand, ensure flow of runs for Ireland adding 43 runs in an unbeaten stand with Andrew McBrine. Balbirnie fittingly hit the winning runs as the pair took Ireland home in the 49th over to level the series 1-1.
The fourth match of the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan ODI Cup will be played on Friday, 8th March.