Ireland eyeing maiden Test victory against battling Afghanistan | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: Ireland positioned themselves strongly to secure their maiden Test victory in their eighth attempt despite facing a late resurgence from Afghanistan on the second day of their one-off Test in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Resuming their innings at 100 for 4, trailing Afghanistan’s initial effort by 55 runs, Ireland’s middle and lower-order batsmen rallied, pushing their total to 263 all out and took a significant 108-run lead.
Although Afghanistan stumbled to 38 for 2, raising the possibility of a two-day finish, a resilient partnership between captain Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, unbroken at 41, steered the nominal hosts to 134 for 3, thwarting Ireland’s hopes for a swift conclusion.
“There was pressure but I kept it calm and simple… Because as a captain you have to lead by example,” Shahidi said after ending the day 53 not out, his second Test fifty.
“Last two Tests my performance was not good but today I felt good… Tomorrow is a big day for us. We have to win the first session to be in the mix.”
Any first-innings lead for Ireland looked a way off when Harry Tector was dismissed by Naveed Zadran to leave them 106-5.
But Paul Stirling made 52, putting on 80 runs with wicket-keeper Lorcan Tucker, who later fell to Zia-ur-Rehman Akbar for 46.
A useful 38, though, from Andy McBrine, who was last man out, put Ireland in a strong position.
Left-arm spinner Akbar finished with 5-64 from his 30 overs.
Irish seamer Mark Adair followed up his first-innings five-wicket haul by taking the crucial wickets of Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah.
Ibrahim Zadran was brilliantly taken in the gully by Peter Moor before Shah nicked behind to Tucker.
Noor Ali Zadran and Shahidi rebuilt steadily before the veteran opener was bounced out by Barry McCarthy.
But Rahmanullah, making his Test debut, counter-attacked, hitting two sixes in his unbeaten 23.
Afghanistan, who like Ireland played their first Test in 2018, will be hopeful of notching their fourth victory in the format if they can set the tourists a testing run chase on a pitch already showing signs of significant turn.
(With inputs from AFP)



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