Ireland finally found their feet against Afghanistan to level the ODI series 1-1 in Belfast.
Paceman Tim Murtagh devastated the Afghanistan top order after they elected to bat first, taking three wickets to leave them in turmoil on 4-16 at the start of the ninth over.
Murtagh added the wicket of Rashid Khan for 10 to complete his four-for, ending with 4-30 (econ 3.00), while Boyd Rankin (0-22 off 10) and Simi Singh (1-17 off six overs) both bowled well under three runs to the over. Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan fought hard to keep his side in the contest before he was run out by Paul Stirling after top-scoring with a stodgy 39 off 82 balls.
Rahmat Shah chipped in with 32 from 69 balls, adding 56 for the fifth wicket with his captain.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowled William Porterfield for a duck off the fourth ball of Ireland’s innings, after which Stirling (39) and Andy Balbirnie added 69 for the second wicket. A mini-collapse left Ireland on 97-4, but Balbirnie and Singh got the run chase back on track before Balbirnie was caught by Najibullah Zadran off Rashid Khan for 60, leaving Ireland well placed on 144-5.
Aftab Alam (1-32) and Khan (3-37) picked up two late wickets to pull Ireland back to 164-7 and raise Irish nerves, but Singh (36 not out off 59 balls) and Murtagh saw their side home with six overs to spare. The Afghanistan team deserves credit for great tight bowling to keep themselves in the hunt for so long.
The third and deciding ODI is set for this Friday in Belfast. The match starts at 11:45am SAST.
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