Ireland v Afghanistan
Civil Service Cricket Club, Belfast
Sunday, 19 May; 10:45am local, 09:45am GMT
Afghanistan and Ireland drew 2-2 the last time they clashed in an ODI series, in India in March in what was a thrilling series. They go again, but this time the priority, for Afghanistan, will be on what is to come beyond the series.
👉 BEHIND-THE-SCENES: Ireland’s squad training at Stormont ahead of Sunday’s first match against @ACBofficials in the GS Holdings ODI Challenge.— Cricket Ireland (@Irelandcricket) May 17, 2019
Join us for some great action on the field. The match will also be live-streamed with details available on the day. #BackingGreen ☘️🏏 pic.twitter.com/S3tmKV2tB4
The two ODIs in Belfast will help them acclimatise to the conditions, which will be similar to what they will come across in England and Wales. There is also the fact that they've not had much game time under their new captain – Gulbadin Naib – and they will want to build on their 1-0 series victory over Scotland.
Afghanistan will also hope to test their bench strength, fine-tune their combinations, and get some valuable match practice against an Ireland desperate to test them. The hosts come into this series after failing to win a match in the tri-nation series against Bangladesh and West Indies.
That would have stung them. But they will look to the positive, of which there were a few, and do their utmost to disturb Afghanistan.
Andy Balbirnie (Ireland): It was in the series against Afghanistan earlier this year that Balbirnie struck his career-best 145* from 136 balls. He also scored a hundred against West Indies in the tri-series. In 2019, the Ireland batsman has scored 428 runs in nine ODIs at 61.14. He will hope to continue in similar vein against Afghanistan.
Gulbadin Naib (Afghanistan): All eyes will be on the newly-appointed Afghanistan captain. Naib is just one ODI old as captain after Afghanistan changed captains last month, and he will be keen to match up to the selectors' faith in him.
Chances of play look extremely dim. There is forecast for continuous rain, and the best-case scenario is for a truncated match.
Ireland: William Porterfield (C), Mark Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson.
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (C), Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, CRashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan and Mujeeb ur Rahman.