2nd ODI: Ireland just cross the finish line to level series with Afghanistan
Tim Murtagh claimed 4/30 to set up Ireland's win at Stormont. (File photo) @Getty

Ireland have levelled the three-match series against Afghanistan with a narrow three-wicket win in the second ODI at Stormont on Wednesday. Chasing 183 after Tim Murtagh’s career-best 4/30, the home team was taken over the finish line thanks to an unbeaten 36 off 50 balls from Simi Singh and a seventh ODI fifty by Andy Balbirnie.

Three wickets to Rashid Khan had Ireland in a bit of bother, but Singh kept his nerve to accomplish the job with 6.1 overs left in the game.

Asghar Afghan’s decision to bat came a cropper, with Murtagh claiming a wicket in each of his first three overs. Second ball of the match, Mohammad Shahzad was rapped on the pads; next to go was Hazratullah Zazai, bowled for 1; and when Gulbadin Naib was also given lbw, the scorecard read 13/3 in 4.2 overs. The run out of Hashmatullah Shahidi for 2 made it 16/4.

Rahmat Shah (32 off 69 balls), Asghar (39 off 82) and Najibullah Zadran (42 off 52) provided some resistance to help the Afghanistan innings to 189/9 in 50 overs. Murtagh added a fourth wicket in the shape of Rashid, who was eighth out for 10 in the 41st over. Singh, Peter Chase and Kevin O’Brien took one wicket each.

Ireland’s chase was not without incident, for the skipper William Porterfield was bowled for 0 by Mujeeb Ur Rahman. But a second-wicket stand of 68 between Paul Stirling (39 off 50 balls) and Balbirnie revived the innings. A brief wobble ensued as Nabi had Stirling stumped and Niall O’Brien out for 10, and then Rashid trapped Kevin O’Brien lbw for 8, but Singh and Balbirnie (60) put on 47.

Then, another wobble as Rashid had Andy McBrine lbw to bow out with figures of 3/37, and Aftab Alam bowled Gary Wilson, which left Ireland at 164/7 in the 41st over. With Murtagh for company, Singh saw Ireland home in a series of scampered singles and leg-byes as nerves began to get frayed on both sides, which moved the on-field umpires into action swiftly. Five wides down the leg side from Nabi hastened Ireland’s win in the 44th over, which came when Murtagh edged two to third man.

Brief scores: Ireland 183/7 in 43.5 overs (Balbirnie 60, Singh 36*, Rashid 3/37) beat Afghanistan 182/9 in 50 overs (Zadran 42, Murtagh 4/30) by three wickets