Ireland’s T20 troubles continued as they were beaten by Afghanistan by five wickets in their opening Desert T20 match in Abu Dhabi.
Batting first, Ireland were given a solid platform as Paul Stirling top scored with 25 in an opening partnership of 36 with stand-in opener Stuart Poynter (18).
However once Mohammed Nabi (2-27) broke the stand, Afghanistan’s spinning triumvirate gained control of the innings which they never relinquished.
Amir Hamza (2-21) and talented leg-spinner Rashid Khan (2-22) also picked up a brace of wickets as the Irish innings stuttered to 125 for 6.
Gary Wilson (23) was the only other batsman to pass 20 with the Irish failing to hit any sixes against a disciplined Afghanistan attack.
Chasing 126, the Afghans were given the perfect start as top scorer Najibullah Tarakai (31) and the enigmatic Mohammed Shehzad (29) shared an opening stand of 54 to put their side firmly in control.
Jacob Mulder (2-23)dismissed Shehzad and skipper Ashgar Stanikzai in quick succession to give Ireland hope.
The run out by Josh Little of Tarakai was followed in quick succession by wickets for George Dockrell (1-19) and Andy McBrine (1-13) to leave Afghanistan wobbling slightly at 99 for 5, needing 26 off 26 balls.
However, the experienced Mohammed Nabi (26*) saw his team home without further alarm, striking two sixes at crucial junctures to secure the five wicket win with eight balls to spare.
Ireland are back in action at the same venue on Tuesday when they face Namibia in a must-win encounter.
IRELAND: 125/6 (20 overs; P Stirling 25, G Wilson 23, S Poynter 18, Amir Hamza 2-21, Rashid Khan 2-22, Mohammed Nabi 2-27).
AFGHANISTAN: 126/5 (18.4 overs; Najibullah Tarakai 31, Mohammed Shehzad 29, Mohammed Nabi 26*, J Mulder 2-23).