Rahmat Shah and Samiullah Shenwari helped their side win the ODI series vs Ireland. Photo Courtesy: Aditya Sahay (CC Reporter)
Afghanistan chased down the target to make the ODI series scoreline 3-2 in their favour . Photo Courtesy: Aditya Sahay (CC Reporter)

Rahmat Shah s composed hundred (second overall) and a handy knock from Samiullah Shenwari led to a 3-2 ODI series win for Afghanistan versus Ireland here at Greater NOIDA Sports Complex in Noida. Asghar Stanikzai s side won the five-match series by winning the fifth and final ODI by 7 wickets, amidst a full-house and presence of Chief Executive of Islamic Republic, Abdullah Abdullah, of Afghanistan. The two sides will now lock horns in the I-Cup, a four-day affair, with all eyes on the coveted Test status. Paul Stirling was adjudged Man of the Series for his spectacular run, slamming 341 runs and earning his maiden five-for in the series. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD, Afghanistan vs Ireland, 5th ODI at NOIDA

Chasing 230, Mohammad Shahzad and Najeeb Tarakai failed to provide the desired start. Stuart Thompson and Tim Murtagh s tight bowling led to their dismissals amidst a quiet start. However, Stanikzai and Rahmat added a significant 73-run stand to take their side forward. Just when Stanikzai got a move on, he went for a 50-ball 39. Eyeing a glory shot, the captain again failed to lead from the front and made the long walk back to the pavillion.

Nonetheless, there was no stopping Afghanistan as Rahmat-Shenwari struck an unbeaten 133-run stand for the fourth wicket. There was no margin of error as the duo bought time in the middle and played sensibly. They rotated the strike and kept the odd boundaries coming after reaching a comfortable stage.

Earlier, William Porterfield won the toss for the first time in the series and opted to bat. Riding on Stirling s fifty and vital knocks from the lower order, Ireland managed to cross the 220-run mark. Rashid Khan was the chief destructor (16 wickets in 5 games) for the opposition, claiming a 4-for in his spell.

Ed Joyce and Stirling added 69 runs inside 15 overs. Stanikzai brought in Rashid for the first time inside 20 overs to break the shackles. He responded by sending Joyce, 8 short of fifty. Stirling also followed after notching up his fourth half-century of the series.

Gulbadin Naib removed Stirling by rattling his stumps for 51. Porterfield got a start but could not do much. He departed after adding 34 off 52 balls in his brief stay. The skipper was penalised for playing a careless shot; thereby getting caught behind. Niall O Brien, replacing an injured Kevin, stuck for a long period but struggled to rotate and play his shots.

Ireland s middle order woes cropped up in the series finale as well. Gary Wilson and Andrew Balbirnie perished for single digits as the Irish camp was on the mat in the second half. From 156 for 2, they collapsed to 193 for 7. Rashid applied the brakes from one end as Mohammad Nabi, Naib and Fareed Ahmed struck with vital blows. Dawlat Zadran also joined the party by disturbing Wilson s stumps off a perfect yorker.

Afghanistan s catching was top notch as well. Shafiqullah Shafiq and Shenwari pulled off stunners, which helped in keeping the target under 250.Vital cameos from George Dockrell and Andy McBrine stitched valuable runs but their middle order worries proved to be the difference in the final scoreline.

Brief scores:

Ireland 229 all-out in 48.1 overs (Ed Joyce 42, Paul Stirling 51, William Porterfield 34, George Dockrell 21; Rashid Khan 4 for 29, Fareed Ahmed 3 for 65) lost to Afghanistan 231 for 3 in 48.4 overs (Rahmat Shah 108*, Asghar Stanikzai 39, Samiullah Shenwari 62*; Stuart Thompson 1 for 38, Tim Murtagh 1 for 36) by 7 wickets

Man of the Match: Rahmat Shah

Man of the Series: Paul Stirling