Ireland wary of Afghanistan spin ace Rashid Khan ahead of ODI series

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Rashid Khan.

Ireland captain William Porterfield has challenged his frontline batsmen to get to grips with Rashid Khan and lay the foundation for a one-day series win over Afghanistan.

The sides go head to head in three 50-over contests at Stormont starting on Monday when the hosts will be looking to avenge a 2-0 defeat in the T20 leg of the tour.

Rashid was a predictably central performer in the sprint format, living up to his world No1 status with combined figures of seven for 52.

The teenage leg-spinner could hold the key once more and will have 10 overs rather than four to weave his spells on the Irish – and Porterfield acknowledges how crucial their response will be.

“He’s a very good bowler, he’s right up there at the top of both formats for a reason,” he said.

“The more you play against someone the more you get to deal (with them), you’ve got to evolve your game and play him well, just as he keeps looking to evolve his.

“If, come the end, he hasn’t hadn’t a successful week in the end column then I think we will have had a successful week.

“The top order has to perform, it’s our job to put a total on the board. If you expose the tail to Rashid he’s going to have one over on them, but if we minimise the wickets he gets in that top seven then a lot of games we’ll come out on top.”

The sides last met in the ODI format in March, at the final of the ICC World Cup qualifier in Harare.

On that occasion Afghanistan were again victorious, pipping their opponents to a place at next summer’s tournament in England.

They also sit two places above Ireland in the ODI table, 10th versus 12th, but Porterfield is far from pessimistic.

“We have a lot of confidence, we’ve played a lot against Afghanistan in this format in our own conditions and come out on top,” he said.

“The longer format has probably suited us for whatever reason over the last couple of years. We haven’t been able to put it together in T20s but 50 overs and the longer format we have been able. If we can hit the ground running it makes the week a hell of a lot easier rather than coming from behind.”

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Afghanistan spin ace Rashid Khan closing in on major T20 milestone

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Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan.

Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan is simply unstoppable when it comes to T20 cricket. Still a teenager, Rashid has emerged as the best all-condition spinner in the format.

The 19-year-old leggie picked up four wickets in the second T20 against Ireland to not only secure a series clinching 2-0 lead, but also taken another step towards a major milestone.

Rashid now has 190 wickets from just 125 T20 matches. He needs just 10 more to reach 200 wickets and it will be a phenomenal achievement as he will most likely still be a teenager when that happens.

Only two other bowlers have such an impressive wickets to matches ratio. Pakistan spin icon Saeed Ajmal picked up 271 wickets form 195 T20 matches while Sri Lanka slinger Lasith Malinga has a staggering 348 scalps from 256 matches.

If Rashid continues at this rate, he will need to play just over 200 more matches to reach 500 wickets. Since he has a lot of cricket left in his body, it looks like a realistic target. As of now, West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is the only bowler with more than 400 T20 scalps – 439.

Other bowlers who have more than 300 T20 wickets are Sunil Narine (337), Shakib Al Hasan (313) and Shahid Afridi (301).

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Final T20 between Ireland and Afghanistan abandoned

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Afghanistan players after the T20 series win. Image: Cricket Ireland/Twitter.

The final T20 International between Ireland and Afghanistan was abandoned without a ball being bowled on Friday.

Heavy overnight rain resulted in a waterlogged pitch and the decision was taken to call off the contest before the toss at Bready Cricket Club.

Afghanistan had already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series following victories by 16 and 81 runs in the first two matches.

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