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Ireland take control of T-20 series against Afghanistan with another win in Belfast

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George Dockrell in action for Ireland against Afghanistan. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

George Dockrell in action for Ireland against Afghanistan. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

George Dockrell in action for Ireland against Afghanistan. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

ANDY BALBIRNIE top scored for the second game in succession as a disciplined team display earned Ireland a five-wicket T20 victory over Afghanistan in Belfast and sent the Boys in Green 2-0 up in the five-match series.

Balbirnie looked on course for back-to-back half centuries only to be caught behind sweeping for 46 from 36 balls, and a few nerves set in when two wickets fell in the 14th over before a below-par Afghan total of 122-8 was passed with an over to spare.

The same pitch that produced plenty of runs on Tuesday had visibly slowed and the Ireland bowlers employed ‘pace-off’ much better than the visitors and took wickets at regular intervals to prevent any momentum.

Opening bowlers Josh Little and Mark Adair grabbed two each, Curtis Campher, who wasn’t used in the first game or in either match against South Africa, impressed with 2-13, and Gareth Delany’s increasingly confident leg spin claimed 2-19.

“Josh just gets better and better, and we were brilliant in the power play,” Balbirnie said. “We've been great against world-class players in the last few weeks, and we’re gelling well as a team after playing a lot together.”

Ireland, who lost 12 T20s in succession to Afghanistan after the retirement of Trent Johnston in 2013 - only ending that sequence with a Super Over victory the last time the rivals met in 2020 - can now wrap up a series win in Friday's third clash.

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