Date & Time: Tuesday, May 21, 15:15 IST
Venue: Civil Service Cricket Club, Belfast, Ireland
Afghanistan has come into a two-match ODI series as favorites against Ireland. But the first ODI was a reality check before the World Cup, as they lost by 70 odds runs. Now, they have got to win the second ODI to not only level the series, but also to get into the World Cup with a win on their back. On the other hand, Ireland would be happy with the result of the first ODI and want to continue the winning streak to seal the series against Afghanistan.
Ireland is likely to stick with the winning combination. Afghanistan might consider changing the playing XI if they want to give the bench players a game before the World Cup.
The surface in Belfast is usually a tough one for batsmen to score freely, the first ODI is a prime example of that. The average first innings score in the last 5 games at the venue is around 210, so we can expect more or less a similar score on Tuesday. Weather-wise there is a slight chance of rain during the match, but it will just be a passing shower, which won’t have a great impact on the game.
Off late, he has been in great form as he piled on runs in the recently concluded Tri-Series. He has carried that form into this series as well. He may have struggled against Afghan bowlers in the past but it doesn’t seem to be affecting him this time. He has scored 311 runs in the last 5 matches which includes a 130 and a couple of 70 odd scores. He is a safe bet to have in all the fantasy cricket teams.
He has enjoyed bowing to Afghan batsmen in recent times, as he got the better of the dangerous Shahzad thrice and other batsmen at least once in last 5 encounters. He is certainly a worthy bowler to have in all the fantasy cricket teams as he also has a good record at the venue in the last 5 matches, where he has picked 12 wickets at a strike rate of 20.
One of the world’s premier spinners is not able to find his usual form in the last few matches. Either the opponent is playing it safe against him, or the batsmen are able to pick Khan’s action now. Whatever be the reason, Rashid is under pressure to come up with his best on Tuesday as Afghanistan is in a ‘must-win’ situation. His good record at the venue would come to his aid, as he has picked 10 wickets in last 5 matches here.
He has been in good nick in the last few matches and he is one of the reliable wicket-takers for the side with 9 wickets in last 3 matches. He also has a good record against Ireland batsmen in the last 5 encounters, where he has picked wickets at a strike rate of 21, out of which he got the better of Stirling, Kevin O ‘Brien and Porterfield twice each in the period. In addition, he also holds a good record at the venue, so he will be crucial for Afghanistan in today’s match as well with conditions likely to be in favor of pacers.