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History made – Day 3

Historic first-ever Test win for Ireland Men

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – A captain’s knock from Andrew Balbirnie ensured a momentous first win in men’s Test cricket for Ireland Men’s team in Abu Dhabi on Friday, beating Afghanistan by six-wickets at the Tolerance Oval.

With his side set a tricky 111 for victory in their second innings, Balbirnie held his nerve with an unbeaten 58 to masterfully see his side over the line.

Ireland’s bowlers had made success possible earlier in the day by running through Afghanistan’s batters, perfectly teeing up Balbirnie’s heroics deep into the final session of day three.

With Afghanistan resuming on 134-3, and 26-runs ahead of Ireland, the tourists knew they required early wickets as they went in search of a maiden Test win in their history.

Mark Adair ensured they did just that, continuing his superb Test match by removing Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (55) in the fifth over of the day. It was just the start Ireland wanted at the beginning of day three, and debutant Barry McCarthy continued the excellent opening with the dismissal of Nasir Jamal (2).

Ireland were rampant at this stage and by the time Craig Young had accounted for first Karim Janat (13) and then key man Rahmanullah Gurbaz (55), Balbirnie’s side were well positioned to secure an historic win.

By lunch Afghanistan were 182-7 and held a lead of 74, which they managed to eke over three figures thanks to the later resistance from Zia-ur-Rehman (13) and Naveed Zadran (25). A crucial first Test wicket for Theo van Woerkom (1-43) managed to break the stubborn eighth-wicket partnership, though, before McCarthy (3-48) and Young (3-24) wrapped up the innings.

With Afghanistan 218 all-out, Ireland then set about chasing down their target of 111. Their chase, however, got off to a rocky start, with opener PJ Moor and Curtis Campher both bowled by Naveed Zadran in successive deliveries at the end of just the second over.

Harry Tector then fell in the fifth over, leaving Ireland in trouble at 13-3 when Paul Stirling joined his skipper at the crease. Balbirnie had already successfully overturned a decision on review earlier in his innings and was able to steer Ireland to Tea without any further losses.

That changed when Stirling (14), given a reprieve by DRS the ball before, was heading back to the pavilion with the final delivery of the third over after Tea. That left Ireland 39-4 and still requiring 72 for victory.

While nerves remained frayed in the final session, there would be no further alarm thanks to the partnership of Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker (27*). They made an unbroken 72 for the fifth Irish wicket, with Balbirnie bringing the scores level before Tucker hit the winning runs, much to the delight of the Ireland team.


Afghanistan v Ireland, 1st Test, Day 3, Tolerance Oval, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — 1 March 2024

Afghanistan 1st innings 155 all-out (54.5 overs; I Zadran 54; M Adair 5-39, C Campher 2-13, C Young 2-31, B McCarthy 1-28) 
Ireland 1st innings 263 all-out (83.4 overs; P Stirling 52, C Campher 49, L Tucker 46; Z ur-Rahman 5-64, N Zadran 3-59)
Afghanistan 2nd innings 218 all-out (75.4 overs; H Shahidi 55, R Gurbaz 46; C Young 3-24, B McCarthy 3-48, M Adair 3-56)
Ireland 2nd innings 111-4 (83.4 overs; A Balbirnie 58*, L Tucker 27*; N Zadran 2-31)

See full scorecard

key points
  • Test number eight is the one as Ireland Men triumph
  • Andrew Balbirnie leads his side by victory with unbeaten half-century
  • Seamers once more amongst the wickets