Barry McCarthy’s five-wicket haul helped Ireland to a 51-run win over Afghanistan to level the series and set up a winner takes all clash in the third and final ODI in Sharjah on Sunday.
The 25 year-old Dubliner took 5 for 46 as Afghanistan were dismissed for 220 chasing 272 for victory.
McCarthy broke a second wicket stand of 51 between top scorer Javed Ahmadi (48) and Rahmat Shah (32), having earlier dismissed opener Ihsannullah (20). He also accounted for Nasir Jamal (25), the dangerous Shafiquallah first ball, and Dawlat Zadran (12) to record the joint fourth best ODI figures for the Irish.
George Dockrell (1-42) had Rahmat Shah (32) smartly stumped by Niall O’Brien – making his 200th appearance for Ireland – and Tim Murtagh (1-28) was his usual economical self, dismissing Afghan skipper Stanikzai (12).
Peter Chase – recalled along with McCarthy for the ill Boyd Rankin and Simi Singh – struck two crucial blows as the game looked to be swinging towards Afghanistan as they reached 182 for 4.
The Malahide speedster first bowled Nabi (29), and five runs later had Gulbodin Naib brilliantly caught by a diving Stuart Poynter at midwicket.
When last man Mujeeb Zadran was run out, the Afghans collapse was complete, losing their last six wickets for just 38.
Earlier Paul Stirling had top scored with 82 from 96 balls, hitting 8 fours and 1 six in making his 34th half century for Ireland in all competitions – 14 of which have come in ODI’s.
Stirling shared an opening stand of 115 in 131 balls with skipper William Porterfield who struck seven boundaries in his 47.
Ireland looked on course to post 300 but Stirling’s dismissal sparked a mid-innings wobble as three wickets fell for no runs to leave them 160 for 5, which became 188 for 6 when Kevin O’Brien became the third lbw victim of the innings.
George Dockrell proved the hero as he produced his best innings in Irish colours enhancing his growing reputation as a genuine all-rounder. The Leinster left-armer thumped seven fours and one maximum in a brilliant unbeaten 62 from just 48 balls.
Dockrell dominated the latter stages of the Irish innings to reach his maiden ODI half-century, sharing stands of 29 with Stuart Poynter and 27 apiece with Barry McCarthy and Tim Murtagh as 83 runs from the last 81 balls took Ireland to what was to prove a match-winning total of 271.
“It was great to get the opportunity to play and it’s fantastic to get the win that levels the series,” said Man-of-the-Match McCarthy afterwards. “It’s obviously very pleasing to get the first five-wicket haul against a Full Member, but more importantly it was great to get the win in a brilliant all-round team performance.”
McCarthy was also quick to pay tribute to the Irish batters who bounced back from Tuesday’s poor display.
“We had a tremendous platform with that opening stand between Paul Stirling and William Porterfield, and that was truly a phenomenal performance by George Dockrell which gave us momentum heading into the second innings.
“It really was a brilliant performance all round and we are all delighted to have contributed to make Niall O’Brien’s 200th appearance in Irish colours a memorable one.”
Second One-Day International, Sharjah
Ireland 271-9 (50 overs; P Stirling 82, G Dockrell 62*, W Porterfield 47; Rashid Khan 2-40, Mujeeb Zadran 2-50, Mohammad Nabi 2-61, Dawlat Zadran 2-65)
Afghanistan 220 all out (45.2 overs; Javed Ahmadi 48, Rahmat Shah 32, Mohammad Nabi 29, Nasir Jamal 25; B McCarthy 5-46, P Chase 2-45)
Ireland won by 51 runs