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Test: Afghanistan lost to Ireland by 6 wickets (Day 3)
Tolerance Oval, Abu Dhabi, 1 March.
Afghanistan 155 & 218 (75.4 overs: Hashmatullah Shahidi 55, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 46, Noor Ali 32, Naveed Zadran 25; Craig Young 3-24, Barry McCarthy 3-48, Mark Adair 3-56, Theo van Woerkom 1-43)
Ireland 263 & 111/4 (31.3 overs: Andy Balbirnie 58*, Lorcan Tucker 27*; Naveed Zadran 2-31)
Winners Ireland (ACB)
Great start by Ireland as Mark Adair traps Hashmatullah lbw with one that nips back, quickly followed by one from Barry McCarthy that comes back a long way. Huge roar of delight from the Pembroke man. Boy, did he enjoy that. They are keeping it tight with runs hard to come by. Stubborn 6th wicket stand ended by Young as Janat chips to Balbirnie at midwicket. Seamers continue to impress having taken all 17 wickets so far. The lead is 65 with just four wickets left, Make that 3 wickets left as a beauty from Young sends the off stump of Gurbaz cartwheeling. That's lunch with Ireland in complete control bowling 26 overs in the morning session taking four wickets for the addition of 48 runs, the lead just 74. McCarthy and Adair resume after the break, 200 raised before Van Woerkom takes the ball and one turns to find the edge of Rahman's bat, straight to Balbirnie at second slip, an Irish spinner finally has a wicket. McCarthy yorks an uncomfortable looking Nijat and number 11 Zahir looks no better! Can Ireland finish this quickly, Zadran will surely be having a swing now with van Woekrom lobbing it up to him. He tries swinging at Craig Young and loses his off stump with the lead at 110. 'Nelson' will win it for Ireland but it will surely be a tense chase against the Afghan spinners. Moor's luck is in as Ibrahim drops him at second slip in the first over - 5/0 all extras. But he's gone in the second without scoring, a tentative push outside the line and bowled through the gate - and it's 2 in 2! An identical prod outside the line from Campher produces an identical dismissal. Nijat Masood shapes one away and Tector is given caught behind on a review, Afghanistan jubilant. Ireland go in for Tea at 36/3 needing another 75 runs for the win. Straight to spin after the break as Zia-Ur-Rahman rips the first ball away from Balbirnie, this could be torture!! Stirling survives an lbw review but edges to slip next ball. 'Spin to win' they say don't they? Few boundaries gets Ireland past halfway. Tense, but the Pembroke duo chipping away at the target as they take drinks having added 37 for the 5th wicket, needing just 35 more...There's the 50 stand and it is almost certainly a match winning one. Half century for Andy Balbirnie from 86 balls (4 fours). Ireland on the cusp of victory. Well done Ireland - fully deserved win. They played the better cricket throughout and having slipped to 39 for 4, they dug in and got a famous first Test win. Surely Mark Adair will get the Man of the Match? Irish seamers were sjmply sensational.
Test: Afghanistan v Ireland (Day Two - Close)
Tolerance Oval, 29 February.
Afghanistan 155 & 134/3 (37 overs: Hashmatullah Shahidi 53*, Noor Ali 32, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 23*; Mark Adair 2-23, Barry McCarthy 1-25)
Ireland 263 (83.4 overs: Paul Stirling 52, Curtis Campher 49, Lorcan Tucker 46, Andy McBrine 38, Harry Tector 32; Zia-Ur-Rehman 5-64, Naveed Zadran 3-59, Nijat Masood 1-38, Zahir Khan 1-67)
Paul Stirling who scored 52 in a partnership of 80 with Lorcan Tucker (ACB)
Not the start Ireland wanted as Harry Tector is trapped lbw by Naveed. He reviewed but in vain as hitting middle/leg. Paul Stirling joined by Lorcan Tucker. Important stand as Ireland look to hopefully build a big lead - they have added 34 in 14 overs this morning as drinks are taken. Ireland take the first innings lead as the 50 stand comes up after 97 balls. Paul Stirling reaches his half century from 87 balls (7 fours) but is then bowled by Zahir Khan on the stroke of lunch. Could that be a turning point. He and Lorcan Tucker (32*) had shared an Irish record stand of 80 for the 6th wicket. The lead is 31 - can they extend it to 100 and beyond? Tucker and McBrine add 30 before Tucker pushes at a wide one from Zia-Ur-Rehman and gives a straightforward catch to slip. Decision time for Ireland - total defence isn't going to work here, there's an unplayable delivery just round the corner so is measured attack the best option for the new batsman Mark Adair? The lead is 78 at the afternoon Drinks break with 48 more overs scheduled in the day. Next session an important one for both sides. Two powerful sweeps for boundaries by Mark Adair but third time unlucky as he's lbw for 15 giving Zia-Ur-Rahman his fourth wicket. Plumb and there goes Ireland's final review! Ireland take the lead past 100 as Afghanistan lose their last review - all in the hands of the umpires now! McCarthy plays back to Zia-Ur-Rahman and 'walks' before the lbw is given, easy one that for umpire Kettleborough. New ball taken immediately it is available but the first day pace and bounce seems to have gone from the pitch somewhat. Andy McBrine goes on the attack but skies to mid-off and the Ireland innings ends with the lead 108. It's Adair again who gets the breakthrough in the second innings - courtesy of a stunning catch low down at gully by Moor. Adair has another and it's the huge wicket of Rahmat Shah. Little bit of away movement and easy catch for Lorcan Tucker - Ireland ecstatic. The hosts fighting back as Noor Ali and Hashmatullah chip away with a 3rd wicket stand. Spin hasn't worked so far - time for Craig Young. McBrine switches ends and almost has immediate success as umpires call saves Noor Ali from an lbw review. Another review but again no joy as Young to Hashmatullah Shahidi was going over. Poor review - always looked high. Stand passes 50 as Afghans close in on parity. The return of McCarthy does the trick as he gets one to rear at Noor Ali who gives simple catch to Adair at gully. Ireland needed that. Can they get a few more in the last half hour of the day? Gurbaz hits Andy McBrine and Barry McCarthy for sixes and they are now in the lead. Day ends with Afghans 26 ahead and 7 wickets in hand. Ireland still slightly on top but not much in it with a nervy chase on a wearing pitch on the cards.
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