|First Twenty20 international, Greater Noida, India|
|Ireland 172-6 (20 overs): Stirling 60, O’Brien 35; Rashid 3-22|
|Afghanistan 133-5 (15 overs): Najibullah 42*; Singh 2-18|
|Afghanistan won by 11 runs (DLS method)|
Ireland fell to an 11-run defeat on the DLS method in a rain-affected opening Twenty20 international against Afghanistan in Greater Noida, India.
Paul Stirling hit 60 with Kevin O’Brien adding 35 as Ireland reached 63-0 inside six overs, but the loss of the openers saw them lose momentum.
Spinner Rashid Khan took 3-22 as the Irish were restricted to 172-6.
Afghanistan had reached 133-5 from 15 overs when rain intervened – and that proved enough for victory.
It was Ireland’s 1,000th match in all formats.
Stirling’s dismissal was to prove particularly crucial as he was caught and bowled by Rashid to leave the Irish on 111-2 after 12.2 overs, and they needed a late cameo by Harry Tector (29 not out from 17 balls) to post a total close to par.
Openers Hazratullah Zazai (23) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (28) brought up their side’s first 50 in four overs at the Indian venue, before Simi Singh struck twice in the fifth over and followed it up with a run out to reduce the Afghans to 55-3.
Tector then ran out Karim Janat to leave Afghanistan on 70-4 after seven overs, but the middle-order pair of Najibullah Zadran (42*) and Samiullah Shinwari (28) helped reassert control as a dropped catch by Kevin O’Brien did not help Ireland’s prospects.
Zadran’s 21-ball innings included three fours and two sixes as George Dockrell and Boyd Rankin were among the Irish bowlers who came in for punishment.
Although Rankin dismissed Shinwari before the heavens opened, the Afghans were declared winners under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern calculations some 45 minutes later as the rain continued.
Ireland will need to win Sunday’s second game in Greater Noida to keep the series alive going into Tuesday’s final match.