AFGHANISTAN VS IRELAND, 2019
Cricbuzz Staff •
Shahzad made 40 in Afghanistan’s reply. © AFP
In a multi-emotion day, with fortunes switching hands by the session, Afghanistan have managed to sneak home the aces. Although some calm was restored towards the end of the third session, the day’s going to be remembered for the maniac eight-wicket first session and then the tenth-wicket stand that put on more than twice of what the first nine wickets put on.
The Afghan openers started off slowly in the session, with Mohammad Shahzad uncharacteristically taking his time – 18 balls – to get off the mark. It took him until the twelfth over, before which they were going at just over one-run-an-over, for Shahzad to cut loose, smashing a six and a four off Andy McBrine’s sixth over.
The first bowling change, James Cameron-Dow, struck in his first over, trapping Ishanullah plumb in front of middle. Shahzad, though, continued on his merry way, mixing a healthy dose of innovation in his shots during his entertaining stay. In the end, it was only fair that he fell victim to his overt show of aggression, smashing his straight slog for Cameron-Dow to mop up a quick low take off his own bowling.
In the midst of all the aggression, Rahmat Shah, was reduced to playing second fiddle, but then with Hashmatullah Shahidi out to join him, did well to shut shop and play out the dying few minutes of the day without further damage.
The Irish bowling too seemed to lack consistency. Three spinners were employed, but their lines were all over the place, allowing the batsmen to feed off the legs consistently. Tim Murtagh, riding on the back of his batting when he became only the third number eleven to score a half-century, was the pick of the bowlers, keeping it tight with the new ball, but he just didn’t have the pace to trouble. Stuart Thompson seemed quick, but would now become a lot more curtailed in his bowling, having received an official warning for running on the danger area in his followthrough.
So, with the trail currently down to 82 and the wicket set to be the best for batting tomorrow, Afghanistan would be looking to maximize their runs. They’ve already shown significant growth from their exploits with the bat in Bangalore a few months ago, and have a pretty one-dimensional attack and a semi-old ball now to milk further.
Brief scores: Ireland 172 all-out in 60 overs (Tim Murtagh 54, George Dockrell 39; Mohammad Nabi 3-36, Yamin Ahmadzai 3-41) lead Afghanistan 90-2 in 31 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 40, Rahmat Shah 22; James Cameron-Dow 2-35) by 82 runs