Ireland vs Afghanistan - First ODI
Thursday January 21st, 2021 / 02:00am EST
Ireland's tour of the United Arab Emirates continues with their first ODI match against Afghanistan, in Abu Dhabi. The match will take place on Thursday January 21st, 2021 at 2:00am EST. This is the first match in a 3 match series and both sides will be eager to get off to a good start. Afghanistan has not played an official match for 13 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic so some rust is to be expected. Ireland is fresh off a series against United Arab Emirates so they would have acclimatized to the conditions here and are ready to go. The pitch is expected to be a slow one and the weather should be good throughout. Who will get the win?
Ireland has been in the UAE for a while, and has recently completed an ODI series against the host country, with mixed levels of success. They lost the first match, won the last and the middle two were cancelled due to COVID-19 related issues. They will be hoping for a much improved series against an Afghanistan side that is much stronger than their previous opponents. Paul Stirling, Captain Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O'Brien are household names in this Ireland team and they will be looking to them to carry them to victory. Ireland enters this series as the underdogs but will fancy their chances since they have more recent match practice under their belt.
Afghanistan has a hugely improved side from when they first started competing in international cricket, and boast some top players such as Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi. They have not played international cricket in 13 months but their players have been playing the various leagues around the world so they should be in good nick. They have a very strong bowling attack led by Khan who is considered one of the top bowlers in the world so they will be confident of getting the series win. They enter this series as the strong favorites.
Despite not having any International match practice throughout the past year, I am going to pick Afghanistan to win this match. Despite not being on the world cricket scene for long, they have developed into a very dangerous team and should not have much trouble here. There may be some early hiccups as they shake the rust off but expect them to win.