Afghanistan beat Ireland in T20 series with game to spare after 81-run thumping

Boyd Rankin produced superb bowling figures of 2-14
Boyd Rankin (right) bowled well but Ireland's batsmen were unable to back up his good work
Second Twenty20 international, Bready:
Afghanistan 160-8 (20 overs): Zazai 82, Asghar 37; Chase 3-35, Rankin 2-14
Ireland 79 (15 overs): Porterfield 33; Rashid 4-17, Mujeeb 3-17
Afghanistan won by 81 runs

Afghanistan clinched victory in the Twenty20 series against Ireland with a game to spare thanks to a dominant 81-run victory at Bready.

Hazrat Zazai's hit seven sixes in his 82 from 54 balls as the visitors reached 160-8 after winning the toss.

Zazai put on 116 for the third wicket with captain Asghar Afghan after the Afghans had been in trouble at 8-2.

In reply, Ireland were reduced to 9-3 and after William Porterfield's rally, they were eventually dismissed for 79.

Seamers Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman dismissed dangerman Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson and Andrew Balbirnie to leave Ireland reeling by the third over.

The world's top-ranked T20 bowler Rashid Khan claimed Porterfield's wicket with Alam making a fine diving catch to end the left-hander's innings on 33.

Ireland's faint remaining hopes of getting back into the contest effectively ended when big-hitting Kevin O'Brien was dismissed to leave the hosts on 60-5.

Rashid finished with figures of 4-17 from his three overs with Mujeeb taking three dismissals as the Afghans earned a seventh successive T20 win over the Irish.

Ireland captain Gary Wilson said the team's performance was "not good enough".

"When we all come to practice tomorrow I'll expect everyone to be back up and giving 100%," said the Irish skipper.

Afghanistan supporters cheer a boundary at the county Londonderry venue
A small but vocal band of supporters cheered on Afghanistan's victory in Bready

After a 16-run defeat in Monday's series opener, the Irish started well as Simi Singh and Peter Chase claimed the early wickets of opener Mohammad Shahzad and Samiullah Shenwari.

Zazai's 116-run partnership with Asghar looked to have put the visitors on course for a score in excess of 180 before as Afghanistan's top-scorer holed out to Singh near the boundary off a George Dockrell ball.

With Dockrell and Boyd Rankin both producing tidy spells, the Ireland bowlers then got on top to restrict the visitors to their 160-8 total.

Former England player Rankin's pace and bounce caused problems to the Afghan batsmen while Chase finished with three wickets, with youngster Josh Little dismissing captain Asghar.

The 160 target was by no means imposing but Ireland were soon in big trouble as the early wickets fell.

Balbirnie's prod forward which gifted a caught-and-bowled wicket to Mujeeb for a duck summed up Ireland's batting woes and captain Wilson (22) was the only player to join Porterfield in reaching double figures.

Friday's final game in the T20 series will now be a dead rubber before the sides meet again in three one-day internationals at Stormont in Belfast next week.

Afghanistan, coached by former Ireland coach Phil Simmons, recently climbed to eighth in the ICC rankings for the T20 format, above Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.