Afghanistan face Ireland in a 5-ODI series     Getty Images
Afghanistan face Ireland in a 5-ODI series Getty Images

With the three-match T20I series done and dusted, the action now moves onto the 50-over format wherein Afghanistan and Ireland lock horns at Greater NOIDA. The first of the five-match ODI series will begin Wednesday (March 15), which will again be expected to be a full house, courtesy Afghan fans. After the 0-3 drubbing in the shortest format, Ireland will look to regain form against a red-hot Afghanistan side.

Will the tables turn?

With the series whitewash, Afghanistan have made a strong statement going forward in the tour. Ireland will have to spring up a much better performance. Not only did Afghanistan notch up their second clean sweep in a three-match series (the previous one had come against UAE), but also remained unbeaten against Ireland in 5 consecutive games. To top it all, Asghar Stanikzai s side now has the longest winning streak (11) in T20Is, going past England, Ireland and India. But their ODI numbers tell a different story. Full Cricket Scorecard, Afghanistan vs Ireland, 1st ODI at Greater NOIDA

Ireland actually have a better record in the 8 encounters between the two sides. They have won 5 games matches, which may give them hope ahead of the series opener. They have been guilty of bowling short and offering width to the Afghan batsmen and have failed to get the momentum going while batting, especially in the Powerplay overs. Nonetheless, this is an extended version of T20Is, where they will get more time to acclimatise and adjust accordingly.

It is still tough to back the Men in Green. Ireland are going through a slide of late. They have been hammered by Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa in recent past. To top it all, they have failed to win their last series against Afghanistan (it was levelled 2-2) at home, in 2016. After facing stiff competition at home, things look bleak for William Porterfield s side in overseas conditions. However, the change in format, coupled with some reinforcements, may work for them.

The homework Ireland need to do

Ireland will have to play the likes of Amir Hamza and Rashid Khan a lot better. They have been faltered against spin, which has put a lid on their scoring. The Irish bowlers, on the other hand, have still not got used to the small dimensions of the ground. They have given away easy boundaries and have never really applied brakes on Afghanistan s scoring. Their death bowling in the last 2 T20Is have also exposed further woes.

The big guns Kevin O Brien, Niall O Brien, Gary Wilson, Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Porterfield will have to bat for longer periods. On the other hand, their bowlers will also have to vary their lengths and bowl at the stumps to the likes of Najeeb Tarakai, Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah. The return of Boyd Rankin should bolster their chances to some extent.

Expectations and favourites

Expect another big turnout for the Asian camp. Afghanistan fans were ecstatic after their 3-0 victory over Ireland on Sunday. They will be hoping for another spectacular run in a different format. Afghanistan are coming on the back of a series triumph, versus Zimbabwe, in ODIs and will again start as favourites for this clash.

Squads:

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Gulbadin Naib, Najibullah Zadran, Fareed Ahmad, Ihsanullah Janat, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Dawlat Zadran, Karim Janat, Aftab Alam.

Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Gary Wilson (wk), Niall O Brien, Kevin O Brien, Ed Joyce, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Jacob Mulder, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young.

Time: 9:30 IST