William Porterfield wants his team to “hit the ground running” today when Ireland meet fierce rivals Afghanistan in the first of a three-match one-day international series in Belfast.

“We need to make a good start because we‘ve lost the first game in the last three series we‘ve played against them,” the Ireland captain said. “Our matches are always close but we‘re confident in this format, and in our conditions, that we can come out on top.”

While the tourists are the better T20 team, and showed it again last week in winning both completed games in Co Tyrone, the nine places separating the teams in the short form world rankings (Afghanistan are eighth on the ladder) narrows to two in 50-overs cricket.

Bitter The Boys in Green trail 6-7 to Afghanistan in ODI clashes over the past two years, the difference being a bitter five-wicket defeat in Harare in March that ended Ireland‘s hopes of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.

The last home series in Belfast in 2016 was marred by the controversial run-out of in-form Ed Joyce, when a senior Afghan player knocked the ball back into play not so much from over the boundary as from the other side of the Newtownards Road.

Joyce, who responded with 160 not out to level the series, has since retired and Ireland may now have to look for their match-winner among the bowlers with Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin likely to be a threat on a pitch known to favour seam over spin.

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