Ireland suffered a five-wicket defeat to Afghanistan in their opening Desert T20 match in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Paul Stirling top-scored with 25 in a 36-run partnership with stand-in opener Stuart Poynter (18), but Gary Wilson (23) was the only other batsman to pass 20 as the Irish stuttered to 125 for six.

Afghanistan's spin trio of Mohammad Nabi, Amir Hamza and Rashid Khan did the damage with two wickets apiece.

Najeeb Tarakai (31) and Mohammad Shahzad (29) then put Afghanistan firmly in control with an opening stand of 54.

Jacob Mulder gave Ireland hope with the quickfire wickets of Shahzad and captain Ashgar Stanikzai (six), and the run-out of Tarakai by Josh Little was followed by two more swift departures to leave Afghanistan wobbling on 99 for five.

But the experienced Nabi (26 not out) saw his team over the line, clubbing two crucial sixes to make sure of the victory with eight balls to spare.

Meanwhile England are preparing to limit one-day captain Eoin Morgan's availability for the Indian Premier League, while allowing other players to stay at the competition for longer.

The England and Wales Cricket Board will next week confirm a list of contracted players to go forward to the auction in Bangalore on 4 February and must also decide how long they will be available to interested franchises.

Any player required to face Ireland in a pair of early-season one-day internationals must report back for duty on 1 May, meaning they could play for just over three weeks at the IPL, potentially limiting their attractiveness during the bidding.

But if permission is granted to skip those fixtures they could be granted an extra two weeks of Twenty20 action before linking up on May 15 for the ODI series against South Africa.

It's understood that the ECB is leaning towards asking Dubliner Morgan to lead the team against his native Ireland while giving its blessing for others to remain in India while those games take place.

Jos Buttler, Morgan's vice-captain, is already contracted with Mumbai Indians and they are understood to be confident of retaining him for the extra time, while Delhi Daredevils will also hope to have Sam Billings on their roster for the maximum window.
Ben Stokes and Jason Roy have confirmed they will go into the draft and Alex Hales is expected to follow suit.
Morgan was given permission to miss an ODI against Ireland last year to remain in camp with Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have since released the 30-year-old.

That set something of a precedent and indicated director of cricket Andrew Strauss was serious about exposing his players to more white-ball experience around the world.

But England's primary ambition this summer is to win the Champions Trophy on home soil and, as skipper, Morgan may see the value of taking charge for the entire build-up to that tournament.

Morgan has also played in several seasons of the IPL, whereas the likes of Stokes and Roy have not had that experience. A longer window of availability could make them more enticing propositions, and England accept there are many benefits to their players building their CVs at such competitions.

Speaking on Friday, Stokes said: "If they (the ECB) feel it's best for the England guys who go to stay out, then we'll follow that. If they want us to come back and represent England, which is our job, then we'll come back and have no complaints either way."