IRELAND paid the price for a series of missed chances in Belfast as Afghanistan powered to a 27-run victory in a match reduced to 11 overs a side, and squared the T20 series at 2-2 going into tomorrow’s final game.

Leg-spinner Gareth Delany took two wickets in his first over, and another in his second to put Ireland in charge before a stunning sixth-wicket partnership of 50 from only 18 balls from Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan turned the game on its head.

Zadran, who made 50 from 24 balls, should have been held at short third man when he was on 26, and Rashid’s whirlwind 31 not out from 10 balls, would have been over before it began if George Dockrell had held on to a half chance at point.

Man-of-the-match Rashid also got away with skier into the deep that was completely misjudged at deep midwicket and he made Ireland pay with three sixes as Afghanistan made 132-6, at exactly 12 runs an over.

Skipper Andy Balbirnie got the reply off to a flier with two fours and a six before firing his fifth ball to cover, and Paul Stirling, showing his experience of playing T10 tournaments, also began rapidly only to pick out Rashid at long leg on 20 from nine balls.

Harry Tector thought he was hard done by to be adjudged caught behind for 13, Delany also got a questionable decision to give Rashid an lbw and his first wicket of the series, and the home side couldn’t get closer than 105 all out despite Dockrell’s 41 not out from 27 balls.

“Rashid and Najibullah are very hard to bowl to but we left a couple of chances out there that could have turned things,” Balbirnie said.

“We now have a decider to look forward to.”