After losing three wickets early, Balbirnie took charge, hitting his third ODI century as Ireland overhauled the target of 257, finishing on 260/6 in 49 overs.
Balbirnie’s excellent knock trumped Najibullah Zadran‘s maiden century which had earlier helped Afghanistan to a decent 256/8.
Like Afghanistan, Ireland too had a shaky start after being reduced to 29/3 in eight overs. Spinner Mujeeb-ur-Raham struck early as he bowled captain and opener William Porterfield (3) in the third over before Dawlat Zadran (2/52) struck twice in an over with the scalps of Paul Stirling (20) and Simi Singh (1).
Barbine was the fulcrum around which Ireland’s chase revolved. He first found support from Kevin O’Brian (21) with whom he added 44 runs for the fourth wicket.
Samiullah Shenwari broke the growing partnership with the dismissal of O’Brian in the 16th over.
From thereon, Barbine joined hands with George Dockrell (54) to stabilise the chase as the duo put their team in front. They added 143 runs for the fifth wicket before being separated. When Dockrell departed after scoring a half-century, Ireland had reached 217 and still 40 runs behind.
Barbine ensured there was no drama as he stayed put to see through the victory, hitting eight fours and as many six.
Earlier, Afghanistan bounced back from an initial collapse thanks to an unbeaten century from Zadran who was well supported by captain Asghar Afghan. Afghanistan were jolted early after opting to bat . They lost Mohammad Shahzad for five after he was trapped lbw by Tim Murtagh. Rahmat Shah followed his opening partner three overs later after he was dismissed by Andy McBrine.
The dangerous Hazratullah Zazai started off in an explosive fashion, but he too was dismissed unluckily via a run-out after adding 34 off 33 which included three boundaries and a couple of hits over the fence.
Afghanistan found themselves in trouble at 74/5 in 19 overs. It was then that Afghan and Zadran showed a lot of character to pull off a rescue effort with a 117-run partnership. Afghan smacked four boundaries and three sixes before the sixth-wicket partnership was brought to an end by Boyd Rankin in the 44th over.
Zadran upped the ante after the departure of his skipper and got to his hundred – his maiden in ODIs – in the final over amidst a breathtaking assault on the death bowlers. Zadran was unbeaten with 104 off 98 balls – his innings laced with five boundaries and as many sixes.
Brief scores: Ireland 260/6 (Andrew Balbirnie 145*, George Dockrell 54; Dawlat Zadran 2/52) beat Afghanistan 256/8 (Najibullah Zadran 104*, Asghar Afghan 75; Boyd Rankin 2/56) by four wickets
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