Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan continued his splendid form in Ireland as he snared three wickets to dismiss the hosts for 124 in the deciding third ODI in Belfast.
Rashid picked up 3-18 from eight overs as Ireland could only manage 124 in 36.1 overs. All-rounder Mohammad Nabi picked up 2-26 after the hosts elected to bat first.
Gary Wilson top-scored for Ireland with 23 as many batsmen got into double figures but failed to convert them into substantial knocks.
Rashid thus extended his brilliant run in white ball cricket. In the ongoing tour of the country, he has picked up seven wickets in two T20s and eight scalps in three ODIs.
Both teams have won one ODI each and Friday’s match is the series decider. Afghanistan won the T20 series 2-0.
Afghanistan continued their winning ways in white-ball cricket as they defeated Ireland by 29 runs in the first one-day international in Belfast.
The hosts, beaten 2-0 in the recent T20I series, were chasing a target of 228 to win but were bowled out for 198.
Having slipped to 93-4, Ireland were relying on Andy Balbirnie, but when he fell for a gritty 55 their hopes evaporated.
Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan picked up two wickets (2-41) while all-rounder Mohammad Nabi also snared two (2-42) as they secured victory.
Earlier, Afghanistan had to dig deep to post a total of 227-9.
Gulbadin Naib top-scored with 64 and shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 77 with Hashmatullah Shahidi, who hit 54. Tim Murtagh took 4-31 and Boyd Rankin finished with 3-44.
Afghanistan cricket added yet another feather to their cap on Monday with the launch of their very own T20 league.
The Afghanistan Premier League (APL) will take place from October 5-23 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium with five franchises fighting for glory over 23 matches.
Helping put the rising Asian side’s league on the world map will be star names such as Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Shoaib Malik among a host of renowned Afghan names like Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran.
Around 400 names have been finalised for the draft that will take place next week. The teams have been split on provincial lines in Afghanistan; they are Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia and Balkh.
vRock Mobile, an Indian company, has won the rights to the Paktia franchise while another Indian entity – Legendary Man Entertainment – will own the Balkh team.
Three other teams are up for grabs with the organisers suggesting two heavyweight T20 franchise owners are close to buying franchise rights in APL.
Franchisees will have to operate with a salary budget of $555,000 up to $700,000. Teams have an option of a minimum 17 players ($555,000) and can go up to 20 players ($700,000).
Players will be picked through a draft with cricketers divided into categories like Icon players, Diamond players, Gold players and Emerging players.
According to Shafiqullah Stanikzai – CEO of Afghanistan Cricket Board – the following which Afghan cricket has not only back home but also in the UAE and the Indian subcontinent should make the tournament a raging success.
“The APL will be among the top three leagues in the world in coming two to three years. The viewership that we have across the globe and especially in the Indian market is big. After their own team, the most watched team in India is Afghanistan,” Stanikzai told Sport360.
“Asian subcontinent is the biggest market and timing of Afghanistan Premier League will suit that. The style of cricket that Afghanistan has brought to global cricket is our biggest advantage.”
"The APL logo represents afghan cricketing style of playing with passion and aggression."— Afghan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) August 27, 2018
ACB CEO @ShafiqStanikzai addressing the @APLT20official Launch and Logo Unveiling Event in Dubai. pic.twitter.com/Nhv3elGo67
Ashish Sethi, CEO Snixer Sports – investment partners of APL – said the league has immense potential and it will be an opportunity for the world to see the talent Afghanistan cricket has.
“You will get to see a lot of raw talent. If you see IPL and Big Bash, they have a few (Afghan) players you are aware of. Here you will see players you haven’t even heard of. We look forward to have many more Rashids and Nabis,” Sethi told Sport360.
Sethi is confident that once the league is up and running, turning a profit will only be a matter of time.
“We expect to reach break-even by the third year and fourth year onwards we should make profits. We have controlled expenses. We have kept the player purse very comfortable. We don’t want franchises to bleed.”
Stanikzai sees the league as an opportunity to not only provide more financial opportunities to Afghan cricketers but also put a larger pool on the radar of franchises from across the planet.
“Financially, our players will be good. Though ACB runs a system where we have 200 full-time professional cricketers, this league will help Afghanistan cricket enormously. Secondly, you can only give opportunities to 11 players in your national side. This league will give exposure to the talent we have in Afghanistan.
“I am quite sure in next year or so, we will have 10 to 20 players in the IPL. Afghanistan will be a hot pick for franchise cricket.”