It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Irish cricketer Paul Stirling was the only thing standing between Ireland’s collapse against Afghanistan’s bowlers in the 1st ODI yesterday. On realising that Ireland’s batting lineup was being torn to shreds, Stirling toned down his naturally aggressive batting style.
The opener toiled hard in the middle and stood strong until the last over. But all the hard work he did, and the temperament and class he’s shown throughout the innings was undone by a single desperate attempt to score in the last over.
With just one over left, Stirling wanted to make every ball count. He was also just two big hits away from scoring a century, but the 28-year-old got too excited in trying to hit a few out of the park.
It was quite clear to the Afghan bowler Gulbadin Naib that Stirling was eyeing the leg side boundary. In doing so, he went across to an extent that he could not even attempt to play a shot. Naib tracked the Irish batsmen’s movement along the crease to get under the ball and bowled a full length delivery straight into the wickets bowling him over.
If we exclude that particular shot from his innings, he played a gem of an innings scoring 89 runs off 150 deliveries, including 6 fours and 3 sixes. It is tough for an attacking batsmen to resort to defending, but he took the team to a score of 161 in circumstances where the team did not look like reaching the 100-run mark.