DEHRADUN: Gulbadin Naib starred with both bat and ball as Afghanistan outplayed Ireland by five wickets in the first one-day international.
Naib took two wickets to help dismiss Ireland for 161 and then struck a crucial 46 as Afghanistan achieved their target in 41.5 overs in the north Indian city of Dehradun.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad put the chase on course with his 43 off 53 balls but his departure triggered a mini collapse as Afghanistan slipped to 104 for four.
Naib then put on 49 runs with skipper Asghar Afghan, who made seven not out, to stabilise the innings with some cautious batting against a disciplined Ireland attack.
Naib was out with Afghanistan needing nine for victory and Najibullah Zadran, who turned 26 on Thursday, celebrated his birthday with two sixes to complete the chase.
“We are happy to win the first match of the series. Chasing is not a concern. Sometimes the wicket is like that and that s why we play carefully at times,” Afghan said after the win.
“Shahzad played very well today.”
Teenage spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman also played a key role in setting up the win after returning impressive figures of 3-14 from his 10 overs.
The 17-year-old Rahman shared the new ball with paceman Dawlat Zadran, who also claimed three wickets.
Paul Stirling top-scored with 89 for Ireland, who were whitewashed in the recent three-match Twenty20 series against the Afghans, after they elected to bat first.
Rahman claimed skipper William Porterfield for nought in his very first over and then struck twice on successive deliveries in his fourth over to put Ireland on the back foot at 14 for three.
Ireland soon slipped to 69 for six but Stirling played a stubborn knock, building crucial partnerships including a 76-run seventh-wicket stand with George Dockrell, who made 37.
Stirling, a portly opener who is playing his 101st ODI, hit 6 fours and 3 sixes in his 150-ball stay at the crease before being bowled by Naib in the final over of the innings.
“We were short with the bat. No one struck it fluently. Someone had to put their hand up and go along with Paul,” said Porterfield.
“230-240 would have been a good score here.”
The second ODI is on Saturday in Dehradun.