After being put in to bat, Ireland were blown away by Afghanistan opener Hazratullah Zazai’s 33-ball 74-run knock that helped the visitors post an good total of 160 for seven, in a rain- curtailed 18-over-a-side match.
After being put in to bat, Ireland were blown away by Afghanistan opener Hazratullah Zazai’s 33-ball 74-run knock that helped the visitors post an good total of 160 for seven, in a rain- curtailed 18-over-a-side match. (ICC Image)

Ireland captain Gary Wilson lauded his team despite a 16-run loss to Afghanistan in the 1st T20I on Monday.

After being put in to bat, Ireland were blown away by Afghanistan opener Hazratullah Zazai’s 33-ball 74-run knock that helped the visitors post an good total of 160 for seven, in a rain-curtailed 18-over-a-side match.

In reply, Ireland could only mange 144 for nine. Speaking after the match Wilson said, “We can actually take a lot of confidence, I thought we played pretty well, particularly the way we came back with the ball. Josh Little (2/20) bowled really well, and that’s why we brought him in with the left arm pace – he will be one for the next few years.”

However, the 32-year-old did admit that they were taken aback by 20-year-old Zazai’s early assault. ““That was his second game, we didn’t know much about him. He seemed to hit to all parts,” said Wilson.

Zazai dominated the opening stand of 87 with Mohammad Shahzad (29) before becoming the first to fall when he was caught down the leg side by Gary Wilson while trying to sweep Simi Singh, the off-spinner.

But, After Shahzad, Asghar Afghan, the Afghan captain, was the only other batsman to get into double figures, scoring a 30-ball 31, as wickets fell in a heap.

“We came back really well – after the start they got, that was a great positive. I thought the boys showed great character,” added Wilson.

One of the highlights of the Irish chase was Aftab Alam’s spectacular catch to send back Paul Stirling off Fareed Ahmad, the left-arm pacer. Stirling had smashed one to the square-leg boundary, but Alam, running along the rope with his arm outstretched, clung on, and the veteran batsman to go back for a 19-ball 27.

After Stirling fell, with Ireland on 47/3, Wilson’s 23-ball 34 and some lower-order hitting from Singh (20) and George Dockrell (22*) were the only major contributions. Rashid Khan returned 3/35, and Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman picked up two wickets apiece to stop Ireland well short.

The second game will be played on Wednesday, 22 August.