Ireland salvage series draw with ODI victory
Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie were Ireland's heroes once again as they beat Afghanistan by five wickets to draw the five-match ODI series 2-2.
The two batsmen have performed admirably across the series for the tourists and scores of 70 and 68 respectively on Sunday helped Ireland claim victory with 16 balls to spare.
Asghar Afghan's 82 helped Afghanistan recover from 50-4 to post a challenging 216-6, the skipper assisted by Mohammad Nabi (40) and Rashid Khan (35 not out).
Stirling and Balbirnie – who finishes as Ireland's top run-scorer – shared 81 for the second wicket in Ireland's reply, their work at the top of the order allowing Stuart Poynter to hit the winning runs off Nabi.
Afghanistan lost Mohammad Shahzad, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah and Samiullah Shinwari inside 15 overs as Ireland made a promising start.
Their innings was rescued by Afghan as he plundered six boundaries and two maximums in his innings – taking his series runs tally to 226 – but the skipper was aided by two drops in the field.
He was forced to retire hurt in the final over with a hamstring injury, and had to watch Rashid send a second six over long-off to finish the innings on a high.
Ireland looked in control throughout their response thanks to Stirling and Balbirnie, the former particularly impressive with an 88-ball 70 that put Afghanistan on the back foot.
Stirling became Rashid's 200th international victim in the 31st over but his efforts had laid the foundation for Balbirnie, and latterly Kevin O'Brien (33no), to guide Ireland home.