After win over Scotland, Afghanistan would look to put the same foot forward when it runs into Ireland for the first of five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in Belfast today (Sunday).
The Afghan National Cricket Team has been on top of its 50-over game over the past year, winning a couple of series against Zimbabwe and a couple of one-off one-dayers as well.
Ireland has the onus of attempting to seal the series 4-1 or better if it is to leapfrog the Asian side to tenth in the ICC ODI Team Rankings.
Afghanistan is currently 10th with 51 points, with Ireland 12th on 41 points. A 4-1 win for Ireland in the series will lift it to 51 points with Afghanistan slipping down to 44. A series win, on the other hand, will keep Afghanistan ahead of Ireland.
But more than points and rankings, the teams will be hoping to make the most of the international exposure, and for someone like Mohammad Shahzad it could mean lucrative deals in Twenty20 leagues around the world.
Shahzad, who once again proved his ability by scoring 84 from 91 balls in Afghanistan’s win over Scotland, has become a star since his showing at the World Twenty20 where he put some of the world’s best bowlers to the sword.
The opener Asghar Stanikzai, have marshaled the troops impressively to highlight the side’s progress repeatedly. They will hope for more support across the line-up.
It will also be the second series for new coach Lalchand Rajput, as he looks to realize the side’s growing ambition.
Ireland, meanwhile, was outplayed by a visiting Sri Lanka last month and has an unenviable task of regrouping since those losses and since exiting the ICC World T20 2016 earlier than it would have liked.
The Afghan cricket team includes Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Jawed Ahmadi, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, Shapoor Zadran, Yamin Ahmadzai.
Meanwhile, the Ireland team includes William Porterfield (captain), Mark Adair, John Anderson, Peter Chase, Ed Joyce, Tyrone Kane, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter, Paul Stirling, Sean Terry, Garry Wilson.