Ireland Fight Back After Early Struggles

Afghanistan celebrate a wicket
Afghanistan celebrate an early wicket, but Ireland would fight back
©International Cricket Council

Ireland 187 (Anderson 55, I. Dawlatzai 4-44) v
Afghanistan 81-3 (Mooney 3-26)
ICC Intercontinental Cup final, Dubai, day one

Ireland fought back strongly on day one of the ICC Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai, reducing Afghanistan to 81 for three after they were bowled out for 187.

Afghanistan won the toss and made excellent use of the conditions to have Ireland in bit trouble at 67 for five before a John Anderson half-century helped them recover.

Ireland then struck with three wickets of their own - two of them through outstanding catches - to leave Afghanistan with plenty of hard work ahead.

Afghanistan's opening bowlers Izatullah Dawlatzai (1-42) and Dawlat Zadran (4-44) made early inroads with Dawlat removing Paul Stirling (17), Ed Joyce (11), Niall O'Brien (7) before later returning to dismiss John Mooney (33).

Dawlatzai had struck in the second over to have William Porterfield caught by Mohammad Nabi for one and Rahmat Shah trapped trapped Andrew White in front for 11 before Ireland limped to lunch on 91 for five.

As batting got a little easier in the afternoon, Anderson struck eight fours in 111 balls to anchor Ireland, allowing Mooney and Kevin O'Brien (18) to play around him and put on partnerships of 39 and 54.

O'Brien fell to Samiullah Shenwari's first ball and after Anderson was dismissed by Shah, Mooney fell one ball later.

Shah bowled Trent Johnston for a three-ball duck and Shenwari returned to trap Max Sorensen in front for 13 to bring the innings to a close.

Afghanistan's openers Nawroz Mangal (13) and Shabir Noori (29) made a cautious start, happy to try to blunt Ireland's new ball attack and it worked as it was not until Mooney came on at second change that Ireland got the breakthrough.

Mangal may have been guilty of a lapse in concentration as he flicked at a wayward leg-side delivery and helped it through to wicket-keeper Niall O'Brien.

Mooney's next two dismissals would have graced any game at any level.

First, he invited Noori to drive outside off stump and a thick edge was brilliantly caught, one-handed, by White at slip and soon after when Mohammad Shahzad popped a leading edge back down the pitch, Mooney instinctively grabbed the ball as it seemed to be on the point of flying past him.

Shahzad had been playing aggressively, hitting three fours in 21 balls and with him gone, Afghanistan's pace of scoring slowed, and they reached stumps with no further loss of wickets thanks to Shah's unbeaten 12 and Asghar Stanikzai's 11 not out.

Mooney finished the day with three for 26.

Ireland, who have already won the ICC World Cricket League Championship and the ICC World Twenty20 2014 Qualifier this year, are chasing a unique treble while Afghanistan are the reigning Intercontinental Cup champions and have never been beaten in this format of the game.

© Cricket World 2013