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Afghanistan are making their return to ODI cricket after a gap of more than a year as they take on Ireland in the first ODI of a 3-match series at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

A Afghan is back as skipper and will be eager to start the series on a positive note. Afghanistan would like to make good use of the conditions as it suits their style of play. Many of their players are coming here after good performances in the Aus T20 League.

R Gurbaz comes back to the side and will open the innings alongside R Shah. The middle order has good experience with the likes of A Afghan and N Zadran. M Nabi and G Naib will have to put their all-round abilities to good use in this series. M Ur Rahman and R Khan can be dangerous in the spin-friendly conditions of the UAE. 

Ireland did well in the last game to level the series against the UAE, after having lost the first game. A major challenge for them would be to tackle three world-class spinners in these spin-friendly conditions.

Openers P Stirling and K O’Brien are the most experienced players on the team. The middle order consists of Captain A Balbirnie, H Tector and L Tucker, all of whom are in decent form. C Campher and S Singh bring the all-round abilities and balance to the side. In the bowling department, B McCarthy, M Adair and C Young are the specialists, and the likes of C Campher, G Delany and S Singh are the other bowling options for the middle overs.

With both sides aiming to gain an upper hand by winning the first match of the ODI series, it should make up for a pretty exciting contest.

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Match Details

  • Match: Afghanistan vs. Ireland, 1st ODI
  • Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
  • Date & Time: Jan. 21, 2021, at 11.30 AM IST

Probable Playing XI


R Shah, R Gurbaz (WK), J Ahmadi, A Afghan (C), N Zadran, M Nabi, G Naib, R Khan, Y Ahmadzai, M Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq


P Stirling, K O Brien, A Balbirnie (C), H Tector, L Tucker (WK), C Campher, G Delany, S Singh, M Adair, B McCarthy, C Young

Weather and Pitch Report

The weather is expected to be sunny and clear for the first ODI match in Abu Dhabi. The temperature will be around 25 degrees during the game.

Sheikh Zayed Stadium has one of the biggest outfields in the UAE. The batsmen will need to time their strokes and run hard between the wickets. Fast bowlers have generally struggled on this wicket but the spinners will enjoy these conditions. The average first innings score in the last five ODIs on this ground has been 248 runs.

In the two games played here between the UAE and Ireland, the pitch became slower and the batsmen found it hard to time the ball as the match progressed. So expect the captain winning the toss to opt to bat first. There are little to no chances of dew as it is a day game. A first innings score of around 260 should be a challenging target.

Key Players

  • R Gurbaz has started decently in international cricket, scoring 332 runs at an average of 33.2, which includes two half-centuries. He has a good record against Ireland, having scored 105 runs in three T20I matches. 
  • R Khan is a world-class bowler. He has picked up 133 wickets in 71 matches at a brilliant economy rate of 4.16. He is coming in this series after a good performance in the ongoing Aus T20 League.   
  • M Ur Rahman is also coming off a good season in the Aus T20 League, having picked up 14 wickets in eight matches. He will be a major threat to Ireland along with the other spinners in the team.
  • P Stirling is one of the most experienced players in the Ireland lineup, with 4412 runs in 122 matches. He has scored ten centuries including a 131* in the first ODI against the UAE in the last series. 
  • C Campher has played only 5 ODIs but is already establishing himself as a solid player. He has scored 207 runs at an average of 69, including three half-centuries. He has also picked up 7 wickets with the ball, giving his captain more bowling options. 
  • S Singh gave one of the best bowling performances in ODIs, taking 5 wickets for 10 runs in the last ODI match. He also scored a crucial 54* with the bat. Expect him to continue his good form against a strong Afghanistan side.

Howzat Dream Team

  • Wicketkeeper: R Gurbaz
  • Batsmen: J Ahmadi, N Zadran, P Stirling, A Balirnie
  • All-rounders: N Nabi, C Campher, S Singh 
  • Bowlers: R Khan, M Ur Rahman, B McCarthy
  • Captain: M Ur Rahman/R Khan
  • Vice Captain: C Campher/P Stirling
Howzat Dream Team Afghanistan vs Ireland

NOTE: The Howzat dream team above is just a suggestion. You can select your own dreateam, and play fantasy cricket matches. Also, don’t forget to make any necessary changes to your team once the actual playing 11 is announced by each team (30 minutes before the start of the match) as some players you have selected might not be part of the team suggested.

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