Greater Noida: Najibullah Zadran hit an unbeaten 42 off 21 balls as Afghanistan survived a top-order collapse to beat Ireland by 11 runs on D/L method in the rain-affected first T20I on Friday.
Najibullah, a left-handed batsman, hit three fours and two sixes and lifted Afghanistan to 133-5 in 15 overs before heavy rain prevented further play.
Earlier, legspinner Rashid Khan had restricted Ireland to 172-6 with economical figures of 3-22 after Paul Stirling smashed eight fours and two sixes in his knock of 61 off 41 balls.
Ireland were cruising along well at 92-1 in 10 overs before Rashid pegged them back with his googlies and sharp legbreaks in the latter half of the innings.
Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie (29) survived three close calls that included a run-out, a close stumping and a catch before Rashid took a well-judged catch off his own bowling to dismiss Stirling.
— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) March 6, 2020
Stirling smacked four boundaries and two sixes in off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s first two overs before he was undone by Rashid.
Mujeeb had a forgetful day on the field as he conceded 49 runs off his four overs and also dropped a catch off Rashid’s bowling which could have dismissed Harry Tector (19 not out) in the penultimate over.
Mujeeb made some amends for his poor bowling and fielding when he had Gareth Delany caught at the deep backward square leg that gave Rashid his third wicket.
The young opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28) and Hazratullah Zazai (23) provided Afghanistan with a flying start of 54 runs off 27 balls before the home team lost three wickets for one run.
Offspinner Simi Singh (2-18) removed both openers in his first over and then followed it up with a brilliant run out of Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan for zero off a direct throw in his next over to reduce Afghanistan to 55-3.
But Najibullah and Samiullah Shinwari (28) added 63 runs off 44 balls before fast bowler Boyd Rankin (1-44) pegged back Samiullah’s middle stump as the rain arrived.
The second and third matches of the series will be played at the same venue on Sunday and Tuesday.
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