Six to watch: Ireland v UAE & Afghanistan

By Ronan Alexander

Ireland kick off their crucial ODI-series in Abu Dhabi tomorrow when they face UAE in the first of four matches against the world number 17’s. After that, Graham Ford’s side take on Afghanistan in three further ODI’s which will essentially work as World Cup qualifiers as part of the World Cup Super League.

The Irish have won their last five meetings with the UAE but have a young squad making the trip with 8 of the 16-man team aged 24 or under. William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin and George Dockrell are not selected and Gary Wilson misses out due to expecting the birth of his second child.

We take a look at two young talents from each country to keep an eye on.

IRELAND

Gareth Delany

After an impressive summer, the 23-year-old looks set to make his spot at the top of Ireland’s order his own. After excelling for Leinster Lightning back home, he was then a key part of the Leicestershire Foxes side that made it to the quarter finals of the Vitality Blast, playing all nine matches. His best performance came against Yorkshire where he smashed 64 and took 2/26 with his leg-breaks as the Foxes chased down 189 off the last ball of the match. He ended the tournament with 193 runs at a strike rate of 138. He did struggle in the series against England, scoring 34 runs across the three matches but did take 1/29 off six overs in Ireland’s victory. The Dubliner will be used to the conditions in the UAE having featured for Ireland when they qualified for the T20 World Cup.

Harry Tector

After making his ODI debut in the summer against England, 21-year-old Tector will be aiming to consolidate his place in the side as Graham Ford look to give youth a chance. It is a big opportunity for the Dubliner with William Porterfield not being selected. Tector played a crucial part in Ireland’s last over victory against England where his unbeaten 29 from 26 balls got his team over the line. His ability to find the boundary at crucial moments stood out, especially when he managed to squeeze a Tom Curran yorker off his middle stump to the point boundary when Ireland needed 14 from 9, a shot which then turned the match in their favour. He will be aiming to build from that and cement his place in the team over the upcoming seven matches.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Aryan Lakra

With the wickets expected to be slower and more spin-friendly in Abu-Dhabi, the UAE have two young exciting spinners that will aim to cause Ireland problems. The first is 19-year-old Aryan Lakra who excelled at the Under 19 World Cup where he was captain, taking 12 wickets with an economy rate of 4.06. He then continued that form in the Emirates D20 Tournament last month where he ended second top wicket taker after grabbing 20 scalps including a best of 5/16. He also had figures of 4/8 and 4/10 in other matches and was handy with the bat as well including scores of 37* and 22* batting at number 8. He will be well supported by fellow spinner, 20-year-old Karthik Meiyappan who grabbed 17 wickets in the Emirates D20.

Alishan Sharafu

A 17-year-old right-handed top order batsman who has performed extremely well in his short career so far. He holds the record for the highest score in a T10 game as he raced to 146 from just 42 deliveries to beat Chris Lynn’s record of 91. He smashed an unbeaten 97 in the third place play off of the Emirates D20 to get his side over the line. He was the 4th top run scorer in that tournament, managing 396 runs in 12 innings, hitting 11 sixes in the process. At the under 19 World Cup he averaged 72.50 where he hit two half centuries for UAE with a top score of 65* against Canada. Despite being only 17, he has already featured in 5 T20 International games, making his debut against Iran 11 months ago, but is yet to play his first ODI but clearly has lots of potential.

AFGHANISTAN

Rahmanullah Gurbaz

A 19-year-old wicketkeeper batsman that Ireland know well, as he emerged as Player of the Series when the two teams last met. Looks to be powerful at the top of the order, recently spent time in the Lanka Premier League as he turned out for Kandy Tuskers although they ended bottom of the table. Gurbaz did end the tournament with 169 runs at a strike rate of 157.94 with his best innings coming in the first match where he scored 53 from 22 balls against a Colombo Kings attack including Angelo Mathews. Yet to make his ODI debut but has excelled in T20 matches for his country and boasts three centuries to his name, and a T20 99.

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Mujeeb ur-Rahman

A 19-year-old off-spinner that is quickly becoming a global superstar by showcasing his talents in all the biggest T20 tournaments around the globe. Currently with Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash, previously at Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League. Has brought a real spark to the Brisbane ranks, collecting 11 wickets in 6 matches including figures of 5/15 against Hobart Hurricanes, best T20 figures in Brisbane Heat history. Has also established himself in the 50-over format and has 40 ODI’s under his belt already despite only being 19. Bowling in tandem with Rashid Khan could prove to be crucial in the series and the young Irish batting lineup will be aware of this and need to come up with their plans and strategies to overcome them.

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MATCH SCHEDULE

The matches between UAE and Ireland are available to watch on FreeSports.

UAE v Ireland

January

1st ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

10 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

12 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

14 4th ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

Afghanistan v Ireland

21 1st ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

24 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

26 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi (05:30 GMT)

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