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Ireland tame Afghanistan to claim first ever Test win

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Ireland players celebrate a wicket of an Afghanistan batter on day two of the one-off Test between the two sides in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. — @cricketireland
Ireland players celebrate a wicket of an Afghanistan batter on day two of the one-off Test between the two sides in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. — @cricketireland

ABU DHABI: Ireland claimed their first test victory when they beat fellow minnows Afghanistan by six wickets on Friday in a one-off match in Abu Dhabi after skipper Andy Balbirnie took charge in the run chase with an unbeaten half-century.

Ireland, who acquired Test status along with Afghanistan in 2017, had lost seven straight matches before they eventually beat the Asian side in a low-scoring affair that finished inside three days.

“A lot of our guys didn’t get to play Test cricket. Hopefully people back home want to be test cricketers. We knew it would be attritional stuff,” Balbirnie said. “There’s a lot of cricket in the world… We’ve created results, and created history. The monkey is off our back, very special to do that.” After dismissing Afghanistan for 155 in the first innings where seamer Mark Adair picked up five wickets (5-39), Paul Stirling (52) helped guide Ireland to a total of 263 to give them a 108-run lead.

Adair picked up three more wickets to clean up the top order in the second innings but Afghan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (55) helped them post 218 to give Ireland a modest target of 111 runs to win.

Ireland found themselves in deep trouble at 13-3 when Naveed Zadran dismissed Peter Moor and Curtis Campher for ducks in the second over, but Balbirnie led from the front with an unbeaten knock of 58. Lorcan Tucker also came in and steadied the ship (27 not out) as they patiently stitched together a 72-run partnership before Tucker hit the winning runs for a famous victory.

“I’m buzzing. Obviously very nice to get a win. Absolutely chuffed,” said Adair, who was named player of the match. “Test cricket is pretty difficult. I think we’ve got a really good bowling group. In the last year, we’ve played a lot of cricket.”

Afghanistan won the toss

Afghanistan 1st Innings 155

Ireland 1st Innings 263

Afghanistan 2nd Innings 218

Ireland 2nd Innings

Moor b Naveed Zadran 0

Balbirnie (c) not out 58

Campher b Naveed Zadran 0

Tector c Gurbaz b Nijat 2

Stirling c Rahmat b Rehman 14

Tucker not out 27

Extras: (lb 7, nb 3) 10

Total: 31.3 Ov (RR: 3.52) 111/4

Did not bat: Mark Adair, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Theo van Woerkom, Craig Young

Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Peter Moor, 1.5 ov), 2-8 (Curtis Campher, 1.6 ov), 3-13 (Harry Tector, 4.3 ov), 4-39 (Paul Stirling, 12.6 ov)

Bowling: Nijat Masood 8-1-27-1, Naveed Zadran 9.3-0-31-2, Zia-ur-Rehman 11-0-33-1, Zahir Khan 3-0-13-0

Result: Ireland won by 6 wickets

Player of the match: Mark Adair

Umpires: Adrian Holdstock, Richard Kettleborough

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