An unbroken partnership of 52 between Andy Balbirnie and Alex Cusack led Ireland to a tense three-wicket victory over Afghanistan in their first Tri-Series outing in Dubai.
Despite a half-century from Ed Joyce, Ireland were struggling on 129 for seven in pursuit of 181 until eighth-wicket pair Balbirnie and Cusack, with an unbeaten 31 and 26 not out, came together to see their side home with 40 balls unused.
Left-arm spinner George Dockrell justified Will Porterfield’s decision to field with 4-35 as Afghanistan, who beat Scotland on Thursday, were dismissed for 180 in 45 overs.
Javed Ahmadi top-scored with 81 from the top of the order before number seven Najibullah Zadran ensured they had something to defend with 45 from 63 balls.
— Cricket Ireland (@Irelandcricket) January 10, 2015
Sussex batsman Joyce held the Ireland innings together when wickets fell around him, hitting just three fours in a 67-ball 51.
The left-hander, Kevin O’Brien and John Mooney all fell in quick succession to Ahmadi, who returned 4-37, to give Afghanistan hope.
But Balbirnie and Cusack kept their cool under pressure to get Ireland’s campaign off to a flying start.
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