Andrew Balbirnie shines as Ireland beat Afghanistan

Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie
Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie

A unbeaten 145 from Andrew Balbirnie helped guide Ireland to a four-wicket win over Afghanistan in the third one-day international.

The batsman hit eight sixes in his highest ODI score as they chased 257 with an over to spare in Dehradun to level the series at 1-1.

Balbirnie added 143 with George Dockrell, who made 54 after Ireland had struggled to 29-3 and 73-4 and looked like heading towards defeat.

Najibullah Zadran made an unbeaten 104 in Afghanistan’s 256-8.

Andrew Balbirnie at the end of match presentation said: “Like William [Porterfield] said, we’ve been in this position before at [Greater] Noida a few years ago and struggled to get a win. So just for a morale boost for all the lads, it’s a long tour, so to get that win going in with two games to go is huge for the team.”

“There was a couple of scary moments but you’ve got to take that risk as they have got world-class bowlers in their side. We haven’t had practice the last two days because of the weather, so it’s been more of a mental battle watching videos of their main threats with the ball - and to be able to counter it today, and play a knock like that, is very special for myself and the team.”

“When you go out and bat, you dream of having that kind of knock, so to do it is just great. We’re a very close team at the moment, we’re in the hotel spending a lot of time with each other, so just to be able to get that win, we’ll enjoy that tonight, and we’ll go again tomorrow preparing for the next game in two days.”

“Hopefully we’ve got confidence now. I thought the bowlers did extremely well - the Afghans batted well in the middle, but we managed to drag it back a bit. The guys up top, Tim Murtagh and Andy McBrine, did really well. It wasn’t a perfect performance, there’s still things to work on, but we’re one-all with two games to go and that is great.”