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Upper hand – Day 1

Ireland Men edge Day One of absorbing Test against Afghanistan

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Ireland Men produced a superb first day’s play in the one-off Test against Afghanistan Men as they bowled their hosts out for 155 by Tea, however a brace of late wickets gave the Afghans hope going into Day Two.

Mark Adair was the star with the ball, returning career-best figures of 5-39 and becoming the third player in Ireland Men’s Test history to claim five-wickets in an innings.

By the close, Ireland had made 100-4 with the bat themselves, ending day one with just a 55-run deficit to Afghanistan, and with six first-innings wickets in hand.

At the start of play, Ireland – who handed debuts to Barry McCarthy, Theo van Woerkom and Craig Young – were put in the field by Afghanistan at the toss, but any concerns over skipper Andrew Balbirnie calling the coin toss wrong were soon put to bed. It took just 6.3 overs for Ireland to make a breakthrough with the new ball, Adair removing Noor Ali Zadran for just seven. He then struck for a second time three balls later, bowling Rahmat Shah for a duck.

The Northern Knights bowling all-rounder had the ball moving both ways and maintained a patient line just outside off stump – showing all his skills in red-ball cricket what he routinely displays in white-ball formats.

Afghanistan rallied with a 55-run stand between captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (20) and opening batter Ibrahim Zadran (53) but McCarthy removed Shahidi before lunch to claim his first Test scalp, ensuring Ireland were firmly on top at the break with their hosts reduced to 86-3.

Ireland pressed on in the afternoon session, with Adair soon dismissing Rahmanullah Gurbaz (5) before Young removed Nasir Jamal (0) and Zadran in quick succession. Despite being on debut, Young has had an international career stretching back 10 years and this experience showed as he delivered the nagging length that he is renowned for. His ability to hit a consistent line and length worried the Afghan batters and no doubt contributed to wickets at both ends.

When Adair snared his fourth, Zia-ur-Rehman (6) caught by Balbirnie, Curtis Campher was introduced to the bowling crease and quickly took the wickets of Naveen Zadran (12) and Nijat Masood (0).

Adair fittingly wrapped up the innings, and his five-for, by bowling Zahir Khan for the fourth duck of the innings as Ireland bowled-out Afghanistan for 155 in only 54.5 overs.

Ireland innings started poorly – losing captain Balbirnie (2) and fellow opener PJ Moor (12), but Campher (49) and Harry Tector (32*) put on 60 for the third wicket to calm any nerves in the Irish dressing-room. Despite losing Campher and nightwatcher van Woerkom (1) late on, Ireland will start day two in a relatively strong position.


Afghanistan Men v Ireland Men, 1st Test, Day 1, Tolerance Oval, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — 28 February 2024

Afghanistan 155 (54.5 overs; I Zadran 54; M Adair 5-39, C Campher 2-13, C Young 2-31)
Ireland 100-4 (31 overs; C Campher 49, H Tector 32*)

See full scorecard

key points
  • Mark Adair takes career-best 5-39
  • Barry McCarthy, Craig Young and Theo van Woerkom make debuts
  • Tolerance Oval hosting its first-ever Test