keyclashes

After drubbing Ireland in the T20I series 3-0, Afghanistan will now challenge them for a five-match ODI series, starting March 15 at Greater NOIDA. Afghanistan will be jubilant given the way they displayed complete domination in the 20-over format, and will certainly be hoping to etch their name on the 50-over series. Ireland, on the other hand, will be looking for redemption. Past records between these two teams might help them boost their morale as the past fixtures depict the opposite. Both sides have faced each other 8 times in ODIs so far, where Ireland have managed to win 5 and Afghanistan 3. Full Cricket Scorecard, Afghanistan vs Ireland, 1st ODI at Greater NOIDA

Fortunes have turned for both teams over time. For Afghanistan, new players have emerged shouldering responsibility with the seniors. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for Ireland. The situation has been completely different. Keeping these things in mind, let us have a look at some of the interesting contests which may unfold in the series opener:

Mohammad Nabi vs Stuart Thompson: Nabi is a proven match-winner. He is handy with off-breaks and an asset with the bat; his latest onslaught being the 30 ball 89 in the final T20I. If in full flow, Nabi can hammer any bowling attack from the word go.

But then, if Thompson gets going he can prove impossible to contain. He is just coming off an18-ball 43 in the final game He is a clean hitter of the ball and with his positive footwork, he has the ability to combat spin very well. He was particularly at ease against Nabi in the 20-over format, smashing the latter all around the park.

In the T20I series, Nabi was the highest run-scorer (124) while Thompson was the best for Ireland (104).

Rashid Khan vs Kevin O’Brien: Rashid had spun his web around the entire Irish side, emerging as the leading wicket-taker in the T20I series. Rashid took 9 wickets in the series (including 5 for 3 in the second match) and also applied brakes on the Ireland’s scoring. Rashid has utilised the wicket exceptionally, bowling according to field placements.

O’Brien needs to go all guns blazing against Afghanistan if Ireland wants to salvage their first win since stepping in India. He is a known match-winner and his stats give an impression of his batting. A lot will depend on him; if he falters, the pressure can go onto next batsman; so he will have to apply his experience in the series opener to produce something positive for the visiting team.

Ed Joyce vs Shapoor Zadran: 38-year-old Ed Joyce will play a crucial part in this ODI series. With 63 games under his belt, Joyce has the responsibility of marshalling the Ireland middle-order. Joyce is one of those men who can play long innings and can still explode at a moment’s notice.

Shapoor had a forgetful outing against Afghanistan the last time these two teams contended against each other. He went wicketless in that encounter conceding almost 8 an over. He failed in the T20I series but is typically more at home in the 50-over format.

Mohammad Shahzad vs Boyd Rankin: Mohammad Shahzad is one of the most explosive openers in the world. His goes gung-ho from the word go and is one of the cleanest hitters of the ball. He has given Afghanistan the perfect start in numerous games enabling them to post mammoth totals on the board.

But this time, in the series opener, Shahzad is going to face a tough competition against the tall, fast Rankin. Rankin can generate serious pace and awkward bounce from the surface and can be a menace on his day. He has not played a single game on this tour so far, but given his reputation as a threatening pacer, this clash definitely promises to be a mouth-watering one.