Afghanistan will go all out against Ireland in their last Super Six game against Ireland in ICC World Cup Qualifiers at Harare on Friday. Afghanistan still have a chance to make it to the final, if they win the match against Ireland and hope Zimbabwe and Scotland lose their last games against UAE and West Indies respectively. UAE are already out of the race for a place in final. Cricwizz takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams ahead of the match between Afghanistan and Ireland.
Rashid back to form: Rashid Khan announced he is back to form in international cricket with a five-wicket haul against UAE to keep alive their hopes of making it to the final and earn a berth in the 2019 World Cup. Rashid Khan was relieved from captaincy after regular skipper Asghar Stanikzai was fit to play after his appendicitis operation. Can Rashid Khan create another history? He is all set to overtake Mitchell Starc’s record of fastest 100 ODI wickets. Rashid, currently, has 96 ODI wickets in 42 games.
Inconsistent batting: Afghanistan’s top-order has been rather inconsistent, with Mohammad Shahzad being guilty of failing to take the team to a good start in this tournament. Shahzad is coming off a year ban and looks rusty at the moment. Other batsmen too such as Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari have also failed to consistently score runs for the team and that has hurt the team’s chances.
Reliable batsmen: Ireland are blessed to have some of the top-class batsmen in skipper William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, O Brien Brothers and Andrew Balbirnie. All have been among the runs in the tournament. Balbirnie scored a match-winning ton against Scotland in the Super Six. But in the next clash itself, they were bowled out for 104 against Zimbabwe. It would pass as an off day for Ireland.
Record against Afghanistan in recent times: Afghanistan had the upperhand in bilateral clashes against Ireland in recent times. Although Afghanistan lost the last ODI series 1-2 to Ireland in December 2017, they have won five consecutive T20Is against them so far. Afghanistan too won the March 2017 ODI series 3-2 against Ireland.
Prediction: Afghanistan have the upper-hand in matches against Ireland in limited-overs cricket. Afghanistan would start favourite against Ireland in this clash.