In a vital Test for two nations, each seeking a golden opportunity for a first Test match victory, Afghanistan had Ireland on the ropes at 85-9 before the tail more than doubled their score, writes SIMON LEWIS.
Ireland got off to a good start, reaching 37-0 before losing opener Paul Stirling for 26 off 30 balls (his Test-best score). Andy Balbirnie got off the mark in Tests with a four, having scored a pair on his Test debut against Pakistan almost a year ago, but didn’t add to his score and was bowled by Yamin Ahmadzai for 4.
A rash of wickets fell, leaving Ireland floundering at 85-9 off 39.1 overs when last man Tim Murtagh joined Test debutant George Dockrell at the crease.
The pair more than doubled the score to take Ireland to 172 off 60 overs, Murtagh ending 54 not out (75 balls, 4×4, 2×6), and number eight batsman Dockrell falling for 39 off 100 balls (6×4). Murtagh’s score was the 11th highest in Tests by a number 11, just pipping Pat Symcox’s 54 against Australia in 1998 (the Proteas man was dismissed, so he falls below the not out Murtagh in the order).
The pair’s stand of 87 was the joint 41st-highest partnership for the last wicket in Tests and has kept Ireland in the game as they challenge for their first Test victory.
Yamin Ahmadzai 3-41 and Mohammad Nabi 3-36 did the most damage up front, backed up by Rashid Khan (2-20) and Waqar Salamkheil (2-35).
Test debutant James Cameron-Dow struck an early blow for Ireland to remove Ihsanullah for seven with Afghanistan 27-1. He later added the wickets of Mohammad Shahzad caught and bowled for 40 off 64 balls.
Afghanistan ended the day on 90-2, just 82 runs behind the hosts with eight first-innings wickets in hand.
Highest scores by a number 11 batsman in Test cricket
|TL Best||95||West Indies||England||Birmingham||2012|
|RO Collinge||68*||New Zealand||Pakistan||Auckland||1973|
|AEE Vogler||62*||South Africa||England||Cape Town||1906|
|GD McGrath||61||Australia||New Zealand||Brisbane||2004|
|Wasim Bari||60*||Pakistan||West Indies||Bridgetown||1977|
|JA Snow||59*||England||West Indies||The Oval||1966|
|Mushtaq Ahmed||59||Pakistan||South Africa||Rawalpindi||19997|
|PL Symcox||54||South Africa||Australia||Adelaide||1998|
Photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images