A good partnership by Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling who half-centuries made a tricky run chase look simple in Dehradun on Sunday, as Ireland notched a five-wicket victory over Afghanistan to claim a 2-2 draw in the one-day international (ODI) series in India.
The final match followed a familiar pattern, with Afghanistan losing early wickets before captain Asghar Afghan and Mohammad Nabi mounted a recovery and then a flurry of late runs from Rashid Khan took the Afghan team to 216-6, as 50 came from the final four overs.
Stirling and skipper William Porterfield got the reply off to the perfect start and with no wicket falling in the first powerplay, Ireland dared to dream.
Captain Asghar Afghan was the top run-scorer with 82 before retiring injured, while Ireland's George Dockrell returned 2-46.
After that, Porterfield was bowled by a gorgeous googly for 17, only for in-form Balbirnie to join Stirling in a partnership worth 81 from 17.4 overs that would have taken the Boys in Green much closer to home but for a poor lbw decision.
Stirling had 70 from 88 balls, his 18th ODI half-century containing seven fours and two mighty sixes, when he played back to a leg-break from Rashid that the umpire decided was going to hit off-stump when replays showed it was clearly missing the timbers.
Balbirnie looked to be closing out the victory when he was bowled through the gate by Mujeeb Ur Rahman for 68 from 91 balls, with only 10 needed to win.
According to the Independent.IE, the experience of Kevin O'Brien, who finished with 33 not out, was enough to see Ireland over the line with 16 balls to spare and give the tourists momentum ahead of Friday’s first Test match between the two sides at the same venue.
“Two-all in the end is probably a fair result,” Balbirnie said, as quoted by Independent.IE, after being named Player of the Series for his 215 runs at an average of 71.66, including a magnificent 145 not out.
The two sides will meet again in a Test match in India which starts on Friday.