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Record-breaking Stirling’s splendid century can’t stop Afghanistan sealing ODI series
ABU DHABI – Paul Stirling hit an excellent hundred to push Ireland past 250 in the second ODI against Afghanistan, but an unbeaten ton from Rahmat Shah saw the hosts to a series-sealing victory.
Having fallen just 16 runs short of victory in the opening game of the series, it was another case of nearly but not quite for Ireland at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Having won the toss and elected to bat, captain Andrew Balbirnie saw his side get off to a tricky start, with his the second of two wickets to fall to Mujeeb Ur Rahman inside the first four overs.
From 20-2, Stirling set about repairing the damage, constructing a succession of valuable middle-order stands. Harry Tector made his second start of the series, taking the team score beyond three figures before chipping Naveen-ul-Haq to midwicket, while Curtis Campher contributed another invaluable hand, notching 47 in quick time as part of a century stand.
From 208-3 in the 41st over, with Stirling well past his century, Ireland would have been hoping for a strong finish. But Afghanistan bounced back, taking 6-51 from that point onwards. Naveen claimed three of those, striking with the last two balls of his spell after Stirling had picked out the man in the ring on 128.
That brought to an end a truly special knock, with the opener racing along at close to a run a ball. He plundered 12 fours and four sixes, each four more than his teammates could muster combined, and, in the course of his innings, overtook William Porterfield as Ireland’s leading international run-scorer. With the hundred his 11th in ODIs, he equalled Porterfield for the most tons by an Irishman in the format.
Yesterday, Stirling had been one of the many to pay tribute to Irish cricketing legend Roy Torrens after his passing. “Irish cricket to the very core but an even better man,” Stirling had written, and he signalled to the sky after removing his helmet to celebrate three figures.
The reply started strongly for Afghanistan, with opening pair Javed Ahmadi and Rahmanullah Gurbaz moved swiftly to within one blow of a half-century partnership. But in the eighth over, hope sprung anew as Barry McCarthy removed the former lbw, getting the ball to jag back in from outside off-stump. Then Rahmanullah, fresh off a century on debut in the first ODI and having raced to 31, was dismissed by a full ball from Campher, missing a flick and remaining out despite a review.
It was at this point that Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi combined to put on the game’s defining stand. Runs flowed freely at first, and at the halfway stage the hosts were well over halfway to their target. However, Gareth Delany, Craig Young and Andy McBrine then combined to peg Afghanistan back, and the next eight overs passed by without a boundary. The rate required neared a run a ball.
It was then that the tempo shifted. Rahmat began to use his feet to attack the spinners, striking a four and a six in successive overs, and Shahidi soon got in on the act, striking two consecutive Young short balls for four, and the rate started decreasing again.
By the time Simi Singh broke through, deceiving Shahidi in the flight and enticing him to hole out to long-off, Ireland’s chances were slim. Singh’s next over went for just one run, but Asghar Afghan soon made up for any sluggishness, striking McCarthy for six, six and four to bring his side to within one run of Ireland’s total, and victory was achieved soon after.
The two sides will return on Tuesday to battle it out for the final points towards the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League.
After the match, captain Balbirnie said:
“At the halfway stage we were in the game, but would have liked a few more having batted so well – particularly Paul again playing so beautifully to set us up. We probably lost a bit of momentum there at the back end. With 260 we felt in the game, but we didn’t have enough on a pitch that played a bit slower and deader as the day went on.”
“We definitely expected the pitch to turn a bit more in the second innings, but it probably didn’t turn as much as we would have liked.”
“I still think we can do better with the bat – apart from Paul and Curtis, there weren’t a lot of positives to take. We played well the other day getting 270, and we set ourselves up to mount a good total here today, but we weren’t able to do that, and against this Afghan side that has a lot of power we were up against it.”
“Paul seems to have a fantastic tour every time we go away – he was very close to the late Roy Torrens who we unfortunately lost yesterday, and you could see that that innings today was for him.”
“There are definitely players ready to go in the wings, and that’s the beauty of this squad that there are a number of players knocking on the door. We picked the guys for these two games that we thought could win some games, and they have been trying – particularly the bowlers who have been battling hard on a wicket not conducive to our style of bowling. The lads are hard on themselves, they’ll be really disappointed with the last two games, but as a squad we’ve got to be ready to rebound and ready to go – we’ve only a day between games, and we’ve got to pick ourselves up and get some points towards this World Cup Super League.”
Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi, 24 January 2021
Ireland 259-9 (50 overs; P Stirling 128, C Campher 47; Naveen-ul-Haq 4-42)
Afghanistan 260-3 (45.2 overs; R Shah 103, H Shahidi 82; C Campher 1-28, S Singh 1-44)
Afghanistan won by 7 wickets
I would to place my deepest sorrow on the loss of a dear friend of 20 years or so his a long with Mr c walker Mr r Harrison the late Mr a linehanin as an ICC tournament liaison roles at under17 and under19 European tournaments between 2006 to 2013 within the north west and northern cricket union area he like myself loved his cricket as our Ireland team manager and 30 caps and see Ireland do so well in 2007 2011 2015 world cups to Mrs Joan Torrens and family also to my beloved friends at his beloved brigade cricket club as chairman please know of my love thoughts and prayers Jason McCullough life member north down cricket Ireland member Yorkshire country cricket club member MCC associate member
It is with great sorrow for everyone that I have to say Roy Torrens passed away this morning, a victim of Covid-19.
He was a wonderful character throughout his life, and a Legend in every way. Who could forget his cricket exploits when Ireland Team Manager, or his "Roy Tours" traveling around the world with fellow cricketers? All that after an illustrious career in cricket and football. He was President of the Irish Cricket Union and later Chairman at Brigade CC, a homeboy that gave him sterling service. Above all, he was a great friend to many.
Rest in Peace big Man.
ABU DHABI – Career-best ODI performances from Andy McBrine and Lorcan Tucker weren’t enough for Ireland to overcome a strong Afghanistan side in the series opener at Abu Dhabi.
McBrine, who finished with figures of 5-29, ripped through the experienced Afghanistan middle-order, dismissing all of Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib for single figure scores. The wicket of Gulbadin to claim the five-wicket haul was arguably the pick of the bunch, a beautifully flighted off-break from around the wicket, that dipped on Gulbadin, took an inside edge and was caught well by Kevin O’Brien at leg-slip – the third of three catches the all-rounder took off McBrine’s bowling from that position.
McBrine’s intervention was a timely one for Ireland as Afghanistan got off to a flying start after winning the toss and opting to bat first. The Afghanistan opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz – a 19-year-old on ODI debut – and Javed Ahmadi put on 120 for the first wicket before McBrine accounted for Ahmadi, who found Simi Singh in the deep after a period of sustained pressure.
That breakthrough sparked somewhat of a middle-order collapse at the hands of McBrine, whose wickets reduced Afghanistan from 120-0 to 161-5 in the space of 10 overs. Fortunately for Afghanistan, Rahmanullah displayed a kind of maturity that belied his relative inexperience, as the youngster held firm as wickets fell at the other end. Rahmanullah – who was the player of the series in the three-match T20I series between the two sides in 2020 – eventually brought up his maiden ODI hundred in the 35th over, before accelerating to finish on 127, a knock that came at exactly a run per ball.
Rahmanullah’s effort seemed to inspire the Afghanistan lower-order who rallied after the centurion’s dismissal, to take their side from 198-7 to an imposing final total of 287-9 from their 50 overs with the majority of their late innings run-scoring coming off the blade of Rashid Khan, who blasted a 30-ball 55 from No.9.
Afghanistan kept a tight hold on Ireland’s run chase throughout. Right-arm quick Naveen-ul-Haq took two important early wickets, first trapping O’Brien lbw for one before deceiving Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie with a slower ball for 15.
Paul Stirling and Harry Tector brought up a 50-run partnership for the third wicket before both fell in quick succession, as Tector spooned a return catch to Gulbadin off another slower ball before Nabi pinned Stirling in front for 39.
With Ireland 88-4, a rebuilding job was required. Curtis Campher and Lorcan Tucker combined to put on 86 for the fifth wicket before the former eventually fell lbw to Mujeeb Ur Rahman for 39.
Tucker kicked on, though. He soon brought up a second career ODI half-century and raced past his previous career-best ODI score of 56; he eventually fell on 83, stumped trying to use his feet against Rashid as the asking rate climbed. As assured an innings it was, it wasn’t quite enough for Ireland as they eventually fell 16 runs short.
ABU DHABI – A brilliant maiden half-century, followed by a maiden five wicket haul in one-day internationals by Simi Singh led Ireland to a comprehensive 112-run win over UAE today to square the series 1-1.
The off-spinning all-rounder first starred with the bat, striking an unbeaten 57-ball 54 – his first ODI fifty – before running through the hosts’ batting line-up with an exceptional haul of 5-10, his maiden ODI five-for.
Such a monstrous victory seemed unlikely in the early stages of the matches, after Ireland were reduced to 10-3 inside the first five overs; Zahoor Khan’s new-ball burst accounted for skipper Andrew Balbirnie and Paul Stirling, while Kashif Daud removed Kevin O’Brien for 2.
Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker led a recovery with a vital 72-run partnership, but both fell with Ireland yet to put up three figures on the board.
Nonetheless, Curtis Campher continued his remarkable start to life in international cricket, joining Singh for 91-run partnership and working his way to a third-half century in just his fourth ODI innings.
At the other end Singh made his runs rapidly, bringing up his half-century from 56 balls, with his innings including two sixes and two fours. A handy cameo from Gareth Delany (15 off 8) took Ireland to 228-6 from their 50 overs, a strong total considering the blows they’d encountered at the start of the innings.
At 46-0, inside the opening 10 overs, the UAE got off to a bright start through Zawar Farid and Vriitya Aravind, but Singh burst through, pouncing on the mistakes of the batsmen.
He took out the UAE’s top three in almost identical fashion: on all three occasions, the batsmen looked to go big on the leg-side but holed out, with Singh’s blows leaving them on 50-3. It was soon 51-4 when Basil Hameed’s attempted cut resulted in an edge that Tucker held on to behind the stumps. In the 22nd over, Singh took his and Ireland’s fifth, getting the ball to straighten from around the wicket to leave Muhammad Usman leg before wicket.
From there, the supporting cast went to work, with O’Brien, Andy McBrine and Delany all picking up a wicket each, while a couple of run-outs helped Ireland bowl the UAE out for just 116.
Ireland will now face Afghanistan on Thursday in the first of three World Cup Super League matches.
UAE Men v Ireland Men, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi, 18 January 2021
Ireland 228-6 (50 overs; C Campher 56, S Singh 54*; Z Khan 3-35)
UAE 116 (36 overs; Z Farid 28; S Singh 5-10)
Ireland won by 112 runs
ABU DHABI – UAE authorities have given the go-ahead for the UAE squad to resume competitive action, and a second men’s one-day international between UAE and Ireland will be played tomorrow (18 January), after two of the four matches scheduled could not proceed as planned due to COVID-19 health concerns.
Further positive COVID-19 tests sees tomorrow's ODI suspended
ABU DHABI – Emirates Cricket Board has advised Cricket Ireland of a further four players who have tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, it has been agreed that tomorrow’s ODI will be postponed.
ABU DHABI – Emirates Cricket Board has advised Cricket Ireland of a further UAE player has tested positive for COVID-19. Subsequently, the two cricket bodies have agreed to postpone tomorrow’s scheduled match until Saturday 16 January 2021.
UAE beat IRELAND by 6 WICKETS
A Paul Stirling unbeaten century – his second in consecutive ODI innings – positioned Ireland well in the first one-day international today, but a clinical run chase by UAE saw the home side achieve its first-ever ODI win over a Full Member.
Near faultless centuries from Chundangapoyil Rizwan and Muhammad Usman steered UAE to victory – their first win over Ireland in the seven ODI clashes between the two sides
Chasing 270, the hosts got off to a shaky start losing their openers, Vriitya Aravind (14) and Zawar Farid (15), inside the first eight overs, with Barry McCarthy accounting for both the wickets.
UAE lost another wicket, when Curtis Campher had Alishan Sharafu caught behind for one in the 13th over, reducing the hosts to 52-3.
Ireland looked in total control before Rizwan and Usman came together and changed the course of the game. The duo made the visitors' bowlers toil, with both the batsmen smashing maiden hundreds.
The visitors kept hunting for the breakthrough - which came courtesy of a sensational catch by Harry Tector in the 46th over – but it was too late. Rizwan (109) had shared a 184-run stand with Usman – the highest by a UAE pair for any wicket in ODIs. Usman reached his hundred in the penultimate over and hit the winning runs, as he remained unbeaten on 105.
Earlier, Irish skipper Andrew Balbirnie won the toss and elected to have a bat first. Openers Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling provided their side a steady start, sharing a 39-run stand before losing O'Brien in the 8th over. He became UAE debutant Kashif Daud's maiden ODI victim, who had the opener clean bowled for 23
The wicket brought Balbirnie to the crease who joined forces with Stirling, and together they stitched a solid century stand, with both the batsmen reaching their fifties along the way. They kept the scoreboard ticking over at a rapid pace en route to a 102-run second-wicket stand, which laid the foundation stone for Ireland’s innings.
Balbirnie, who made his 10th half-century in ODIs, was dismissed for 53. The Ireland captain was looking for a slog sweep but Ahmed Raza managed to turn the ball away, and got the top edge as UAE 'keeper Aravind took an easy catch.
From 141-1, Ireland slipped to 159-4, losing Balbirnie, Harry Tector (6) and Lorcan Tucker (4) in quick succession, with Rohan Mustafa accounting for the last two wickets.
Curtis Campher, the No.6 batsman, contributed with important runs, 24 from 30, before becoming Palaniapan Meiyappan's only victim of the day.
Gareth Delany then joined Stirling in the middle, and together they shifted gears. At the end of the 46th over, Stirling brought up his 10th ODI ton with a single. The duo added 55 runs from the last five overs, lifting their side to a competitive total of 269-5.
Stirling was Ireland's star batsman, smashing a sensational 131* from 148 and also passing 9,000 runs for Ireland across all formats in the process, becoming only the second Irish batsman to reach the landmark after William Porterfield.
We wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2021.
We want Covid-19 ended
We want cricket back to normal
Ireland fixtures 2021
ABU DHABI – All of Ireland Men’s players and support staff have successfully completed their initial quarantine and testing protocols after their arrival in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, and have held their first outdoor training session at the Zayed Cricket Stadium complex ahead of next week’s one-day international series against the UAE.
The squad has been self-isolating in their hotel since arrival and were required to undertake three COVID-19 tests each – which have all come back negative. The 16-man squad will prepare for the four-match series against the UAE with daily training sessions and a warm-up match against a UAE XI on 4 January. The UAE series will then be followed by a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan which will be part of the World Cup Super League.
The international fixtures, which will be played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, are:
UAE v Ireland – 1st ODI – 8 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
UAE v Ireland – 2nd ODI – 10 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
UAE v Ireland – 3rd ODI – 12 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
UAE v Ireland – 4th ODI – 14 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
Afghanistan v Ireland – 1st ODI – 18 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
Afghanistan v Ireland – 2nd ODI – 21 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time)
Afghanistan v Ireland – 3rd ODI – 23 Jan 2021 (start: 9.30am local time / 5.30am Irish time
The matches against Afghanistan will be part of the World Cup Super League (see below for det
LIVESTREAM / BROADCAST
Matches will be livestreamed via Youtube in Ireland / UK, with further details made available closer to the match days. For the rest of the world, the series with either be shown on satellite television or livestreamed, so please check local guides.
The Ireland Men’s squad is:
Andrew Balbirnie (C), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, David Delany, Gareth Delany, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Kevin O’Brien, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young.
The feature on the late Bob Kerr reminds me of playing for Ballymena against North Fermanagh on a Sunday “tour”in the 70s - concrete pitch with coconut mat - when Bob opened the batting. Great crack with lots of rehydration post-match. The reverse fixture took place the next year and because of the “no Sunday” rule, we played at St. Patrick’s Barracks. They brought their West Indian pro Everton Mattis who hit a spectacular 74 including 5x6s and 10x4s so he didn’t do much running that day. One 6 off Alex McKee went over the wall on the assault course that adjoined the field. He went on to feature on the rebel tour to SA that led to so many changes in the cricket world. Great days and great memories!
So sorry to hear of the passing of my former team member of donacloney cc,I refer to David Carson . superb all rounder and gentleman . sympathy to all the family
Very sad indeed Gilbert. A great stalwart of Donacloney CC and a fine cricketer with both bat and ball. Above all, a true sportsman. I remember when Ian Shields patted the ball to him after he saved the delivery and the Pro bellowed "that's out." Umpire Murray Power shrunk into his collar as he would have to give him out. However, David quietly defused the mayem when he said "We don't play like that at Donacloney." I never forgot it after 40 years. Wonderful sportmanship in the heat of battle! What a lovely man.
Rest in Peace David.
Sorry to hear sad news about Raymond Hunter . sympathy to all the family
It is a sad day for Irish cricket as one of our Legends Raymond Hunter has passed away on Wednesday. He had a long illness over the years, and was 82.
Big Hunter, as he was often called, was a dual International for cricket and rugby, and played in the British Lions in 1962. He won 28 caps for Ireland cricket and 10 for Ireland rugby. He played 12 matches for the British Lions in South Africa.
Ray was born at Dunmurry and after a short term at the local club, then moved to Lisburn and later Lurgan, when three sons Alan, Neil and Graeme joined him at Pollock Park. He was a fine attacking batsman, excellent pace bowler, and terrific in the field. He hit 133 for Lisburn against Woodvale in the 1957 NCU Cup Final, and scored two half-centuries for Lurgan when they beat Muckamore to win the final in 1972. His batting and bowling figures are legendary.
A dashing strong three-quarter at centre or wing, he played for CIYMS RFC and won 10 caps for Ireland in the 1960s. His brother Lawrence was also capped twice, playing for Civil Service RFC.
Raymond was always a forthright visionary at NCU AGMs, and Committees. Not everyone shared his views, and he 'ruffled a few feathers,' but perhaps he was right in many instances when discussing the controvverial Overseas Professions debate. Sadly, his ill health robbed the NCU from his debate, as the discussions have been rumbling for over 40 years.
Our sincere condolences to Maureen and the family.
Rest in Peace Ray.