Afghanistan hope familiar conditions in Abu Dhabi give them edge against Ireland

Capital's Tolerance Oval will become the 122nd ground in world to host men’s Test cricket on Wednesday

Afghanistan's captain Hashmatullah Shahidi leads his side in a one-off Test against Ireland in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. AFP
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Afghanistan hope their recent tour to Sri Lanka will count in their favour when they take on Ireland in a one-off Test at the Tolerance Oval in Abu Dhabi starting on Wednesday.

Afghan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi feels the conditions in the island nation are similar to those in Abu Dhabi and that, combined with the training camps and matches they have played in the UAE as the home venue for their international games, will give them the edge.

“Abu Dhabi is our home venue for international cricket. We have had regular camps and played a lot of matches, and coming after the tour of Sri Lanka, I would like to think the advantage is on our side,” Shahidi said at a pre-match conference on Tuesday.

“We are aware Ireland haven’t played a Test for more than nine months and they had a long journey. They are still a tough side. We have been playing against each other in different formats a lot of times. It will be a good challenge, though, for both teams.”

Rashid Khan, who is recovering from a lower-back injury, is not part of the Test squad but is expected to be part of their three ODI and three T20I teams after the Test.

“We have a lot of experienced players who have excelled in both international and domestic games and we are well prepared and ready for any challenge,” Shahidi said.

“Obviously, we are fresh from the series against Sri Lanka that included a one-off Test and that would certainly play to our strengths. However, having said that, we still have to bring our A game to the table if we want to win against Ireland.”

The game was originally due to take place at the Zayed Cricket Stadium but was moved to the adjoining Tolerance Oval, which will host its first Test match after being approved by the ICC recently. It will become the 122nd cricket ground in the world to host men’s Test cricket.

Ireland’s red-ball captain Andrew Balbirnie believes his side are ready for the Test despite the late switch of venue.

“Preparations have been good. We were very fortunate to spend a week in The Sevens Stadium in Dubai before arriving in Abu Dhabi,” Balbirnie said.

“We were informed of the switch to the Tolerance Oval last week, but it is a really nice Oval. We've looked at some games that we've played there in the past and I'm sure it'll be a pretty good pitch. We can be pretty disciplined and have a good five days.

“Afghanistan obviously have quite good spinners in there, an attack they always have. I'm sure they'll want that to play a part in the Test match. However, Test cricket is a huge challenge with both bat and ball and getting the right combinations and hopefully we get to win this week.”

The last time the two met in a Test was in 2019 in Dehradun, India, a match that Afghanistan won by seven wickets.


Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmat Shah, Ikram Alikhail, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Abdul Malik, Baheer Shah, Nasir Jamal, Karim Janat, Khalil Gurbaz, Zahir Khan, Zia Ur Rehman Akbar, Nijat Masoud, Ibrahim Abdulrahimzai and Naveed Zadran.

Ireland: Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Matthew Foster, Graham Hume, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, PJ Moor, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Theo van Woerkom, Craig Young.

Tolerance Oval, Abu Dhabi – in pictures

Updated: February 27, 2024, 4:49 PM