Superb Little effort is too late for Irish
Josh Little took his first T20 international wickets in Bready last night and was the shining light for Ireland as the home side slipped to a disappointing 16-run defeat against Afghanistan in the opening game of a best-of-three series in Co Tyrone.
The Pembroke teenager's two wickets in three balls helped the Boys in Green to hold Afghanistan to 160-7 from a rain-reduced 18 overs, which was a fine effort after the visitors had begun the 16th over on 150-2, looking set for a total nearer 200.
Little, who made his international debut as a 16-year-old in 2016, was tipped as a future star by former Ireland coach Phil Simmons and the Trinidadian, now in charge of the visitors, would have been impressed with his protege's 2-20 from four overs of left-arm seam.
Tyrone Kane also claimed two victims, while Peter Chase struck in his fourth and final over for a respectable 1-29.
Ireland's hope of a successful chase in the gloom lay with Paul Stirling, who has been in sparkling form for Middlesex, and the Belfast boy twice cleared the ropes in the powerplay before falling for 27 attempting a third six.
Stirling was brilliantly caught one-handed on the boundary, which, in a cruel twist, underlined just how much Afghanistan have improved in the field since appointing a certain John Mooney as specialist coach.
Captain Gary Wilson blazed 34 from 23 balls and George Dockrell lifted a superb straight six in his 22 not out, but with leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the world's best T20 bowler, on hand to quell any lower order insurgence, the chase petered out on 144-9.