Monday 29 May 2017

We owe you one, Johnston warns Afghanistan

TRENT JOHNSTON will be looking to get the better of Afghanistan for only the second time in six meetings when the two leading non-Test playing nations square up today in Rotterdam.

The Afghans will be firm favourites in what could be the deciding fixture in the six-nation World League Division 1, but skipper Johnston believes Ireland "owe them one" after a string of narrow losses.

"No doubt at all it's a big game and our record isn't good because they've beaten us in all formats over the past year or so, and we've only come out on top once," he said.

"I've told the guys we owe them one. We looked good in all three disciplines in the opener against Kenya and Paul Stirling has been a revelation at the top of the order. He's in great nick."

Stirling and Alex Cusack, who was pushed up to No3 at Johnston's suggestion, sealed the seven-wicket win over Kenya, but Afghanistan looked ominously good chasing down Canada's 257-7 with six wickets and eight balls to spare. For once, Ireland coach Phil Simmons is not confident of his side's chances.

The former West Indies batsman stressed: "Afghanistan have to be favourites to win the tournament because they haven't lost at this level for six months."

One advantage Ireland can claim is playing a second match in three days at the VOC ground -- Afghanistan opened their campaign in The Hague -- but opening bowler Phil Eaglestone is again set to miss out after straining a side in the warm-up for Thursday's game.

Irish Independent

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