Ireland claim hard-fought success over Afghanistan

Andrew Balbirnie impressed
Andrew Balbirnie impressed

An unbroken eighth wicket stand of 52 between Andrew Balbirnie and Alex Cusack guided Ireland to a hard fought three wicket win against Afghanistan in Dubai.

Chasing what looked a modest victory target of 181, Ireland slumped to 129 for 7 and looked to be heading for defeat.

Middlesex batsman Balbirnie has been the stand-out performer for Ireland during the winter season, and his good form continued as he stroked an unbeaten 31 to settle the Irish nerves.

Alex Cusack proved the perfect foil, guiding the Irish over the line in conjunction with Balbirnie.

The Clontarf batsman’s undefeated 26 included four boundaries, three of which came off successive Dawlat Zadran deliveries to tie the score.

Ed Joyce top scored with a stylish 51, sharing a stand of 44 with Niall O’Brien (22) after the early wickets of Paul Stirling (0), William Porterfield (7), and Gary Wilson (9).


At Dubai International Cricket Stadium

AFGHANISTAN 180 all out (44.2 overs, Javed Ahmadi 81, Najibullah Zadran 45, George Dockrell 4-35, John Mooney 2-36)

IRELAND 181/7 (43.2 overs, Ed Joyce 51, Andrew Balbirnie 31*, Kevin O’Brien 30, Niall O’Brien 22, Javed Ahmadi 4-37, Mohammed Nabi 2-39)