Afghanistan secured progression to next year’s World Cup with a five-wicket victory over Ireland in Harare, a result which the home side’s head coach, Graham Ford, believes will give his players ‘extra added incentive’ ahead of the clash.
The teams have developed something of a rivalry since being instated as ICC’s newest Full Members, and matches between the two have produced some enthralling battles.
The tourists are marginal favourites going into the T20I series having won the last five 20-over bout between the two sides, but Ireland have an opportunity to even the scales in the three matches on home soil, followed by three ODIs.
The teams have not met in T20Is since March 2017 and since then Afghanistan have leapfrogged Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to No.8 in the MRF Tyres rankings, while Ireland are in 17th place.
With a bowling attack that boasts household names such as Rashid Khan, the MRF Tyres No.1 ranked bowler in this format, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, another excellent young spinner who has made headlines in the IPL, the home batsmen will have their work cut out. Afghanistan also come into this tour having thumped Bangladesh 3-0 in their most recent T20I series.
Gary Wilson took the captaincy from William Porterfield in June, and he will be thankful for the return of fast bowler Boyd Rankin after injury. Youngster Joshua Little, who is just 18, and 20-year old uncapped David Delany have both made the squad, but the spine of the team is still held up by the likes of Porterfield and the O’Brien brothers, who all have had extensive international careers.