Balbirnie hails Paul Stirling...


Balbirnie hails Paul Stirling performance following tough loss to Afghanistan

Ann-Marie Donelan
Ann-Marie Donelan

03:31 24 Jan 2021

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Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie says there aren't many positives to be taken from their loss to Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning. 

Afghanistan won by seven wickets with 28 balls remaining after Ireland won the toss and chose to bat first, setting a target of 260.

The loss means that will Afghanistan win the ODI series, having also won during the week and with the sides set to meet again on Tuesday.

30-year-old Balbirnie says their performance simply wasn't good enough.

“At the halfway stage we were in the game, but would have liked a few more having batted so well – particularly Paul again playing so beautifully to set us up.

"We probably lost a bit of momentum there at the back end. With 260 we felt in the game, but we didn’t have enough on a pitch that played a bit slower and deader as the day went on.”

“We definitely expected the pitch to turn a bit more in the second innings, but it probably didn’t turn as much as we would have liked.”

“I still think we can do better with the bat – apart from Paul and Curtis, there weren’t a lot of positives to take. We played well the other day getting 270, and we set ourselves up to mount a good total here today, but we weren’t able to do that, and against this Afghan side that has a lot of power we were up against it.”

Speaking after the loss, Balbirnie went on to further praise Paul Stirling after he hit an excellent hundred to overtake William Porterfield in becoming Ireland's all-time leading run-scorer across all formats.

Balbirnie said this was particularly impressive following the death of former manager Roy Torrens on Saturday.

“Paul seems to have a fantastic tour every time we go away – he was very close to the late Roy Torrens who we unfortunately lost yesterday, and you could see that that innings today was for him.”

“There are definitely players ready to go in the wings, and that’s the beauty of this squad that there are a number of players knocking on the door.

"We picked the guys for these two games that we thought could win some games, and they have been trying – particularly the bowlers who have been battling hard on a wicket not conducive to our style of bowling.

"The lads are hard on themselves, they’ll be really disappointed with the last two games, but as a squad, we’ve got to be ready to rebound and ready to go – we’ve only a day between games, and we’ve got to pick ourselves up and get some points towards this World Cup Super League.”

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Afghanistan Andrew Balbirnie Cricket Ireland Paul Stirling

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