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Afghanistan beats Ireland by 21 runs, win T20 series 2-0

NOIDA, India (AP) — Skipper Asghar Afghan smacked 49 off 28 balls as Afghanistan beat Ireland by 21 runs in the second Twenty20 on Sunday. Afghan hit four fours and three sixes to lead the side to 184-4 in 20 overs. In reply, Ireland could only manage 163-6 in 20 overs with spinner Mujeeb Ur Rehman picking up 3-38 in four overs.

The win gives Afghanistan an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. They had won the first T20 on Friday by 11 runs. Opting to bat first, Afghanistan’s top order made a solid start. Openers Hazratullah Zazai (28 off 33 balls) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (35 from 30) put on 57 runs for the first wicket to set the stage for Afghan who stunned the Irish attack, but just missed out on a half-century.

Mohammad Nabi provided the finishing touches with 27 off 17 balls, including two fours and a six. Chasing 185, Ireland started slowly against Afghanistan's spin attack. Mujeeb accounted for openers Paul Stirling (12) and Kevin O Brien (19), reducing them to 37-2 within the first five overs.

Skipper Andy Bilbirnie scored 46 off 35 balls, including five fours and a six, but it wasn’t enough. He was dismissed off Afghanistan’s other well-known spinner, Rashid Khan (1-26), effectively ending the Irish challenge.

Afghanistan hasn’t lost a T20 match to Ireland since 2013. The third T20 will be played at the Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground on Tuesday.

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