Rights-free audio interviews of Neil McCallum, Trent Johnston, Alex Cusack and Andrew Poynter available for download at http://www.icc-cricket.com/media_interactive_zone/audio_interview.php
Photographs from Afghanistan's innings available through Getty Images
Ireland took a sweet revenge for its shock defeat to Afghanistan in the same tournament last year when it outsmarted the Asian side by 39 runs to record its second successive victory in the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 at VOC in Rotterdam.
Afghanistan, which beat Ireland by 22 runs in Krugersdorp, South Africa, failed to repeat its performance and was dismissed for 198 runs while chasing 238 runs for victory. It had started its run-chase on a bright and sunny Sunday morning after intermittent rain on Saturday afternoon had forced the match to be carried over into the reserve day.
In the first-ever ODI between the two sides (last year's match is not classified as an ODI as Afghanistan did not have an ODI status then), a lot more was expected from the Afghanistan batsmen. However, they failed to come to terms with some disciplined Irish bowling which was well backed up by strong fielding.
The Ireland bowlers bowled accurately and when the Afghanistan batsmen tried to break the shackles by attempting over-ambitious strokes then well-positioned fielders didn't miss an opportunity as Afghanistan lost wickets at regular intervals to be eventually bowled out in 47.1 overs.
Surprisingly, Afghanistan delayed its batting powerplay until the 46th over by which time it was already struggling at 188-8 and needing another 52 runs from 30 balls. It managed only 10 runs in its final 13 deliveries.
The bowler who broke the back of Afghanistan's top and middle-order was right-arm fast bowler Alex Cusack. He claimed the prized scalps of Noor Ali (21), Mohammad Shahzad (two), Asghar Stanikzai (20) and Samiullah Shenwari (14). He later returned in the death overs to add the wicket of Hamid Hassan (17) to complete his maiden five-wicket haul. He finished with excellent figures of 8.1-1-22-5.
Off-spinner Andrew White also bowled well and picked up the wickets of Afghanistan's top scorer Shabir Noori (38) and Karim Sadiq (25) to finish with impressive figures of 2-30.
On Saturday Afghanistan had let Ireland off the hook with some sloppy fielding to allow the defending champion to post 239-9 in 50 overs. Andrew Poynter, who was adjudged man of the match, was the top scorer with 78 while captain Trent Johnston struck a quick-fire 42 not out that included two fours and two sixes from 28 balls.
Johnston was delighted with his side's success. He said: "I thought the toss was very important on this wicket. We posted a pretty good total and we knew if we could get early wickets and put pressure, our spinners will come through and do the job.
"Our spinners didn't bowl as well as we all expected, but Alex Cusack bowled fantastically well and took five wickets. I thought we built a lot of pressure on them and didn't give them any loose balls which they like."
Johnston was all praise for Poynter and Cusack: "Both were outstanding. (Andrew) Poynter has just come back into the side after a couple of years off, I suppose. But he got his chances in the absence of some key players due to their county commitments and he's making full use of them. This is something that all the youngsters need to do.
"People think Ireland is a one generation team. We have just got to have a look at him. He (Andrew Poynter) has come back into the team and he has 10-12 years of international cricket ahead of him. To come out here and score 80-odd runs on this wicket is an outstanding achievement.
"(Alex) Cusack is a big ace up my sleeve. He was man of the tournament in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier earlier this year. He is a massive player and though he missed out on batting, he came back strongly to pick up five wickets."
Scores in brief:
At VOC, Rotterdam, Ireland beat Afghanistan by 39 runs
237-9, 50 overs (Andrew Poynter 78, Kevin O'Brien 44, Trent Johnston 42 not out, Andrew White 31; Hamid Hassan 3-53, Khaliq Dad 2-27)
Afghanistan 198 all out, 47.1 overs (Shabir Noori 38, Karim Sadiq 25, Mohammad Nabi 23, Noor Ali 21, Asghar Stanikzai 20; Alex Cusack 5-22, Andrew White 2-30)
Man of the match:
Andrew Poynter (Ireland)
Ireland 2 Afghanistan 0
Kenya v Afghanistan, VRA, Amstelveen (live streaming at www.espnstar.com/icclive and http://wcldiv1.yahoo.net/
Netherlands v Canada, VOC, Rotterdam
Ireland v Scotland, VCC, Voorburg
Play starts 1100 local time (0900 GMT)
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