Stuart Thompson’s first T20 international half century proved in vain as Ireland slipped to a six-wicket loss in the first match of their T20 series against Afghanistan in India.
The Eglinton all-rounder shone on his 50th appearance in all formats for Ireland, justifying his promotion to opener with a fine array of strokes.
The 25 year-old top scored with 56 from just 35 balls (6 fours, 2 sixes), sharing a second wicket stand of 82 in nine overs with skipper William Porterfield (39) after the early loss of Paul Stirling.
Porterfield’s run-out saw the Irish momentum stall, and it took an unbeaten 41 from 27 balls by Gary Wilson (3 fours, 1 six) to get the Irish up to a total of 165 for 5.
What looked a competitive total at the half-way mark was proven to be well short as Afghanistan unleashed a barrage of boundaries to race out of the blocks.
Samiullah Shenwari’s 56 earned him the MOM accolade, while Mohammed Shahzad (47), Najeen Taraki (27) and skipper Ashgar Stanikzai (20*) were also among the runs in the successful chase.
Irish captain William Porterfield reflected on the loss saying: “I thought we did very well with the bat after losing Paul Stirling in the first over which wasn’t ideal. The big plus for us was how Stuart Thompson struck the ball and we had a couple of decent partnerships.
“We had a good platform to set up a good total but the momentum shifted slightly with my run-out. We fell a little bit short of potentially a very big score. We could have added another 15 and gotten up to the 180 we were looking for.
“As well as we played I thought we just came up short with the ball. We didn’t quite execute things as well as we would have liked.
“You’ve got to give Afghanistan a lot of credit as to how they played. They’re the kind of side that like to play their shots and they can potentially hit a lot more sixes than us. I think we can tie them down a lot better come the second game.
“There’s a lot of good things that came out of today, especially with the bat, and if we can sharpen up a little bit with the ball then I don’t think we’ll be far away from levelling the series.”
The teams meet again on Friday in the second T20I at the same venue (08:30 GMT).
Ireland v Afghanistan, 1st T20I, Greater Noida, India
IRELAND 165/5 (20 overs; S Thompson 56, G Wilson 41*, W Porterfield 39)
AFGHANISTAN 171/4 (18 overs; Shenwari 56, Shahzad 47, Tarakai 27, Thompson 1-17)