Ireland Enjoy The Better Of Third Day
Ireland 187 & 341 (Joyce 87, N O'Brien 78) v
Afghanistan 182 & 136-5 (Dockrell 3-28)
ICC Intercontinental Cup Final, Dubai, day three
Ireland need just five more wickets to clinch the ICC Intercontinental Cup but will be wary of an Afghanistan fight back after setting them a victory target of 347 to win the final in Dubai.
Half-centuries from Ed Joyce (87) and Niall O'Brien (78) helped Ireland reach 341 all out in their second innings and set Afghanistan a stiff target.
They set off quickly but lost wickets as they went, slipping to 85 for five before recovering to reach stumps at 136 for five, still another 211 runs away from victory.
The partnership between Joyce and O'Brien had the makings of being pivotal to the outcome of the match when they came together yesterday and they put on 110 together to forge Ireland into a big lead.
Andrew White (39), Kevin O'Brien (47) and Trent Johnston (31) then all made good contributions to set Afghanistan, who were bowled out for 182 in their first innings in reply to Ireland's 187, a stiff test in the final innings of the match.
Mohammad Nabi bowled with excellent control to pick up four for 39 in 25 overs with Dawlat Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf and Rahmat Shah taking two apiece.
Shabir Noori then set off as he was playing a Twenty20 International with two fours, one flashed between wicket-keeper and first slip, and the other square of the wicket but he was trapped in front by Johnston for eight in just five balls.
Nawroz Mangal made 23 and Mohammad Shahzad 39 in a partnership worth 57 for the second wicket but Afghanstan then lost four wickets for 20 runs - a collapse that may well cost them their hitherto unbeaten record in the competition.
Mangal fell to John Mooney, Shahzad was caught and bowled by George Dockrell, who then bowled Asghar Stanikzai for two and trapped Afsar Zazai without scoring.
From 85 for five, Shah faced 82 balls for his 35 and Nabi made 25 not out in 66 balls as Afghanistan reined in their attacking instincts and played for the end of the day, the pair making it with their wickets intact as Ireland's spinners attacked.
With two full days available - although highly unlikely to be needed - they have the time to chase down the runs, but the final session of the day brought into question whether they have the patience and application to overcome Ireland.
Dockrell finished the day with three for 28, Mooney one for 22 and Johnston one for 12.
Should Ireland pick up the five wickets they need, they will complete a unique hat-trick having already won the ICC World Cricket League Championship and the ICC World Twenty20 2014 Qualifier this year.
© Cricket World 2013