Kevin O'Brien picked up 4 wickets    Getty Images
Kevin O’Brien picked up 4 wickets Getty Images

In the fourth ODI, Ireland tightened screws over Afghanistan, bundling them for 220 in 49.5 overs here in Greater Noida on Wednesday. Opting to bat, Asghar Stanikzai s side faltered again on a flat track owing to some disciplined bowling by Kevin O Brien and spinners, Andy McBrine and Jacob Mulder. Irish camp will like to avoid a similar collapse and level the series before heading to the decider on Friday (March 24). They won the last game by 6 wickets courtesy Paul Stirling s 99 and will look upto him to guide them to their second consecutive victory and keeping their hopes of a series win alive. LIVE CRICKET SCORE: Afghanistan vs Ireland, 4th ODI at NOIDA

Mohammad Shahzad was partnered by Usman Ghani, instead of Noor Ali Zadran, at the top but the move paid no dividends as the openers perished soon. Kevin, recovering from a tight hamstring, struck in the first over to remove Shahzad for naught. Ghani and Rahmat Shah went in quick succession as Ireland were off to a good start. LIVE BLOG: Afghanistan vs Ireland, 4th ODI at NOIDA

William Porterfield resorted to his spinners, Mulder and McBrine with Afghanistan s middle order coming into play. The ploy worked as they teased the batsmen by pitching the ball outside off stump with enough flight and adequate movement. As a result, Gulbadin Naib, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Stanikzai went playing half-hearted and careless strokes.

Mohammad Nabi and Shafiqullah Shafiq struck a vital 59-run stand to prevent any further embarrassment for a brief period. Shafiq, surprisingly coming at No. 9, scored a run-a-ball 42 before being dismissed by George Dockrell, whose slider struck Shafiq s pads as he was left stranded at the crease.

Nabi played a handy 41-run knock (dismissed by Kevin) and ensured vital runs in the end along with Dawlat Zadran (41 not out). Porterfield, however, missed a trick by continuing with his tweakers for long and could have brought the pacers early to fold the innings.

Seeing Irish spinners success in the first half, Stanikzai may introduce Rashid Khan early into the attack with a small total in hand and test the opposition. The chase will commence shortly as Ireland will eye a perfect start.

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, Andy McBrine 2 for 39) vs Ireland