Ireland and Afghanistan clash again on Sunday for the 3rd T20I at Greater Noida © Getty Images
Ireland and Afghanistan clash again on Sunday for the 3rd T20I at Greater Noida © Getty Images

The third and final Twenty20 International (T20I) of the bilateral series between Afghanistan and Ireland will be played on Sunday, March 12 at the Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground, Greater Noida, India. The match is going to only be of academic interest, with Afghanistan already having pocketed the three-match series after winning the first two games. Though technically the venue is a neutral ground, but it has worked as a de facto home venue for the Afghans, who have made it their base for quite some time now. It is here that they have created the record by stretching their unbeaten streak in T20Is to 10 (most by any nation) and to 4 against Ireland, by winning the first two games. Full Cricket Scorecard, Afghanistan vs Ireland, 3rd T20I at Greater Noida

Given the form they are in, nothing is likely to change in the third T20I. However, the only thing that may hamper their chances of a brownwash are complacency and a complete turnaround in the fortunes of the Irishmen. Ireland too have some solid players, who on their day, can change the complexion of the game within minutes. Who can, after all, forget Kevin O’Brien’s 50-ball hundred against England in ICC World Cup 2015?

Coming back to the third T20I, looking at the current form, there are expected to be some fiery battles between players from both the camps. Let us take a look at them here:

Ireland’s batting vs Afghanistan’s spin bowling: This is the battle which is likely to determine the fate of the contest. Afghanistan’s spin bowling has been their main weapon. In the likes of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Amir Hamza, they have a potent spin attack. The strength of this comprehensive attack lies in its variety, as each bowler is different from the other. While Rashid is an attacking leg-spinner, Nabi is an off-spinner and Hamza a left-arm orthodox bowler. The multi-dimensional attack is thus too much to handle for the Irishmen; that too in conditions conducive for spin bowling.

Rashid, who was recently signed by the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) along with Nabi for IPL 10, showed why the franchise invested such heavy amount on him. His figures in the last match read 2-1-3-5 as Ireland succumbed to a paltry 93. Though Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson and William Porterfield have shown signs of their ability to handle the Aghan spin attack, it will take a lot more application on their part to deal with them in the final game to avoid a brownwash.

Najeeb Tarakai vs Barry McCarthy:  Najeeb Taraki has been in a great form this series, registering the scores of 15-ball 27 and 58-ball 90 in the first and the second game respectively. However, in the last game, he did face some stern contest from the debutant Barry McCarthy. The medium-pacer did manage to get under the skin of Afghan top order and rattling it with early wickets. Though Tarakai survived and went on to hammer 90, McCarthy had the last laugh as he dismissed the opener. The Irish pacer ended with figures of 4-0-33-4 and was at par with his Afghan opponent. The clash between these two players will be worth watching in the final game.

Ireland’s death bowling vs Afghanistan’s late onslaughts: In the first game, from 124 for 2 in 14 overs, Afghanistan chased down the target of 166 by getting to 171 in 18th over. Runs came thick and fast in the death overs. In the next game too the Afghanistan batsmen added 66 runs in the last 5 overs. This suggests their proficiency to add runs in the later part of the innings and complete failure on Ireland’s part to contain the opponents in the death overs. The onus in the final game will thus be on McCarthy’s pace and the spin duo of George Dockrell and Jacob Mulder to contain the Afghanistan batting in the death overs and put a brake on the flow of runs, as that is one aspect which will make or break the game for either side.