Afghanistan leve series 2-2    Aditya Sahay
Afghanistan level series 2-2 Aditya Sahay

Ireland cruised to a 3 wicket win in the fourth ODI versus Afghanistan courtesy Kevin O Brien s all-round show here in Greater Noida on Wednesday. Chasing 221, Ireland kept losing wickets at regular intervals, but a 66 run stand between Gary Wilson and Kevin for the seventh wicket bailed their side, keeping the series alive. For his 4 for 26 and 72 not out, Kevin was adjudged Man of the Match. He missed the previous two ties due to a tight hamstring, and was even retired hurt during the course of today’s unbeaten knock, but overcame all the barriers to take his side home. LIVE CRICKET SCORE: Afghanistan vs Ireland, 4th ODI at NOIDA

Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce added 48 runs for the opening wicket before the in-form right-hander went for 28. Stirling looked in a hurry and, as a result, paid the price. He got out to Mohammad Nabi. The fall of wicket brought in William Porterfield at No. 3. However, the skipper could not add much to the scoreboard, handling Nabi his second scalp.

Gulbadin Naib clean bowled Joyce for 24, raising hopes in the Afghan camp. Andrew Balbirnie looked in control by rotating the strike and getting a few boundaries. He had just started the repair work with Kevin before the latter experienced cramps and left the field for a brief period. He returned with the score at 130 for 6 in 32 overs. However, Kevin came charged up and attacked Rashid Khan and Amir Hamza to bring down the equation to 39 off 60. Wilson departed for a well-made 41, but Kevin s stay till the end made the series scoreline 2-2. He made 63 runs off 46 balls after he resumed his innings, in the 32nd over.

In Afghanistan s innings, Mohammad Shahzad was partnered by Usman Ghani, instead of Noor Ali Zadran, at the top. The ploy backfired as the openers made the long walk back to the hut within 3 overs. Kevin struck in the first over to remove Shahzad for 0. Ghani and Rahmat Shah departed in quick succession, as Ireland were off to a blistering start. LIVE BLOG: Afghanistan vs Ireland, 4th ODI at NOIDA

After a stunning start, Porterfield introduced his spinners, Jacob Mulder and Andy McBrine, against Afghanistan s middle order. The duo worked wonders by tossing up the ball outside off stump and finding adequate turn. As a result, Naib, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Stanikzai perished soon, falling prey to half-hearted strokes.

Nabi and Shafiqullah Shafiq added a vital 59-run stand for the eight wicket to prevent any further embarrassment for a while. Shafiq, surprisingly coming at No. 9, scored a run-a-ball 42 before being adjudged out off George Dockrell. The spinner s quicker one struck Shafiq s pads, leaving him perplexed in the middle.

Nabi played a handy 41-run knock (dismissed by Kevin) and helped his side cross the 200-run mark along with Dawlat Zadran s unbeaten 41. Porterfield could have gone for the kill by bringing his pacers and restricting Afghanistan under 200. Nonetheless, it did not matter in the end as his side prevailed in the penultimate clash to level the series 2-2.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 220 all-out in 49.5 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 35, Mohammad Nabi 41, Shafiqullah Shafiq 42; Kevin O Brien 4 for 26, Jacob Mulder 3 for 57) vs Ireland 224 for 7 in 46.5 overs (Paul Stirling 28, Kevin O Brien 72*, Gary Wilson 41; Mohammad Nabi 4 for 50, Rashid Khan 2 for 30) by 3 wickets.

Man of the Match: Kevin O Brien

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