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Porterfield's second century in a month not enough as Ireland slip to opening ODI defeat

A bad start to the series as John Bracewell’s men suffer another defeat.

Porterfield reverse sweeps on his way to 119.
Porterfield reverse sweeps on his way to 119.
Image: Altaf Qadri

WHEN ONCE IRELAND would more often than not come out on the right side of these results, the balance of power has now definitively shifted to such an extent that John Bracewell’s side have now lost sixth straight games to Associate rivals Afghanistan.

Even a timely, and sensational, return to form for captain William Porterfield couldn’t prevent Ireland from slipping to defeat in this morning’s opening One-Day International of a five-game series in Greater Noida.

Coming off the back of a 3-0 loss in the Twenty20 series, these are alarming times for Ireland as they appear to have lost the knack of winning and ability to grind out results against a side who have overtaken them in the Associate stakes of late.

You have to go as far back as July 2016 for the last time Ireland beat Afghanistan in any format and with a crucial Intercontinental Cup clash on the horizon, the last few weeks don’t bode well for that particular fixture.

The margins of defeat — 6 wickets, 17 runs, 28 runs and 30 runs — are perhaps most worrying with the Irish camp insisting that the games have been closer than the end result would suggest; the bottom line, however, is that this team have won just five of their 10 outings this winter.

India Afghanistan Ireland Cricket Afghanistan celebrate victory following the wicket of Peter Chase. Source: Altaf Qadri

Porterfield has led from the front and his second century in a month, and ninth ton in ODI cricket, suggests he is rediscovering the form which has eluded him over the last 18 months and led to question marks over his place in the team.

But as has so often been the case under Bracewell’s tenure, there was little support for the one main protagonist as Ireland fell 30 runs short of chasing Afghanistan’s 292.

Coming in at number three, Porterfield was at his fluent best as he scored 18 boundaries on his way to 119 off 98 balls. It was his highest score in ODI cricket for Ireland.

 

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Paul Stirling scored a fine half-century following the early loss of Ed Joyce in the chase but once he and Porterfield’s 157-run partnership was broken, Ireland collapsed to be all out for 262 with 3.1 overs remaining.

Earlier, Noor Ali Zadran and Rahmat Shah scored fifties of their own for the hosts as Ireland’s bowlers leaked early runs, with the omission of all-rounder Barry McCarthy once again raising eyebrows.

India Afghanistan Ireland Cricket Kevin O'Brien took three wickets but it wasn't enough for Ireland. Source: Altaf Qadri

Kevin O’Brien steadied the flow and took three wickets during an economical spell but a late rally from Afghanistan saw them surge towards 300, a total too tall for Ireland to chase.

The second ODI takes place at the same ground on St Patrick’s Day, with Ireland now already under pressure with all the momentum in favour of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan 292/7 after 50 overs (Rahmat Shah 78, K O’Brien 3/47)

Ireland 262 all out after 46.5 overs (Porterfield 119, Stirling 68)

Afghanistan win by 30 runs 

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