Afghanistan v Ireland: Afghans clinch series with crushing seven-wicket win

Rahmat Shah
Rahmat Shah's century saw Afghanistan ease to victory and claim 10 more World Cup Super League points
Second one-day international, Abu Dhabi
Ireland 259-9 (50 overs): Stirling 128, Campher 47; Naveen 4-42
Afghanistan 260-3 (45.2 overs): Rahmat 103*, Hashmatullah 82
Afghanistan won by seven wickets

Afghanistan took an unassailable 2-0 series lead over Ireland thanks to a seven-wicket win in the second one-day international in Abu Dhabi.

Rahmat Shah made a 103-ball century and shared a match-winning third-wicket partnership of 184 with Hashmatullah Shahidi as the Afghans easily chased down Ireland's total of 259.

The result came despite Paul Stirling's 11th ODI hundred, which saw the Belfast man overtake William Porterfield as Ireland's all-time leading run-scorer across all formats.

Stirling made 128 off 133 deliveries to propel Ireland towards a reasonable total, before a loss of six wickets in the final 10 overs stifled their progress.

Afghanistan reached the required 260 with nearly five overs to spare, led by the brilliant Rahmat.

Along with the series, Afghanistan secured another 10 World Cup Super League points and moved clear of Ireland in the race to book an automatic spot at the 2023 tournament.

Record-setting Stirling knock in vain

Thirteen years on from his international debut, Stirling drew level with Porterfield's century record, while overtaking his former captain in runs, with a typically classy knock a day after the death of hugely popular ex-national team manager Roy Torrens.

Stirling, 30, is one of three experienced heads at the top of Ireland's order tasked with setting the platform before the young middle-order arrive at the crease.

However, Kevin O'Brien and Andrew Balbirnie both fell to Mujeeb Ur Rahman early, bringing Harry Tector out with less than four overs played.

Tector (24) and Curtis Campher (47) both dug in, allowing Stirling to put the Afghanistan attack under pressure.

The opener hit 12 fours and four sixes before finally being caught by Gulbadin Naib at extra cover, having been dropped by the same player at the start of his innings.

Paul Stirling
Stirling paid tribute to the late Roy Torrens upon reaching his 11th ODI hundred

Bowlers toil against rampant Rahmat

Afghanistan's victory in the first ODI on Thursday was down largely to a wonderful opening partnership between debut centurion Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Javed Ahmadi.

Both batsmen appeared well set again on Sunday but this time Ireland managed to break through, with Barry McCarthy and Campher removing the openers in consecutive overs.

With Rahmat and Hashmatullah both new to the crease in the ninth over, Ireland's hopes of levelling the series were high. But they were soon dashed.

The new pairing quickly brought the run-rate over five, and none of Ireland's attack were able to bring the batsmen back in check.

By the time Hashmatullah was caught at long-off chasing a maiden hundred, the damage was done. Ashgar Afghan arrived to joyfully smash 16 runs off three deliveries, as Rahmat reached his ton to complete a thoroughly comprehensive win.

'We must improve with the bat'

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie: "With 260 we felt in the game, but we didn't have enough on a pitch that played a bit slower and deader as the day went on.

"We definitely expected the pitch to turn a bit more in the second innings, but it probably didn't turn as much as we would have liked."

"I still think we can do better with the bat - apart from Paul and Curtis, there weren't a lot of positives to take. We played well the other day getting 270, and we set ourselves up to mount a good total here today, but we weren't able to do that, and against this Afghan side that has a lot of power we were up against it."

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