Ireland's Adair takes career-best five-for in first day of Test against Afghanistan

Irish quick strikes with five for 39 to restrict hosts to 155 before visitors close on 100 for four

Afghanistan batter Rahmat Shah’s off stump goes cartwheeling to a ball by Mark Adair on the opening day of the Test match at Tolerance Oval in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, February 28, 2024. Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub
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Ireland fast bowler Mark Adair grabbed a career-best five-for against Afghanistan in an absorbing opening day of the one-off Test at the Tolerance Oval in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Afghanistan, electing to bat first, were shot out for 155 and Ireland in reply were 100 for four at close of play. Adair did the damage when he ripped through the Afghan innings to return with career best Test bowling figures of five for 39.

The Ireland quick grabbed two early wickets in the first session and struck twice shortly after lunch play before rounding off by knocking back the off stump of tail-ender Zahir Khan for his five-for.

The remaining five wickets were shared by the Irish pacers Curtis Campher (2-13) and Test debutants Craig Young (2-31) and Barry McCarthy (1-28).

“Delighted. Nice to see a few guys coming in on debut and make an impact straight away,” said Adair.

“We toiled away for long periods; it got quite niggly. You can see how much it means for the guys to make their debut. I'm absolutely buzzed. The boys have done their job today. Now it's up to the batters to give us a lead, hopefully.”

Peter Moor gave Ireland the perfect start, driving Nijat Masood’s first delivery to the deep backward point boundary but they had to face 18 more deliveries to get the scoreboard ticking again.

In-between, Andrew Balbirnie was dropped at the slips. The Ireland captain nudged Naveed Zadran towards Rahmat Shah at second slip, who leapt but failed to hold on to it.

The ball popped up, and Ibrahim Zadran made a vain attempt by running back from third slip, however, the ball fell beyond him. Naveed didn’t have to wait long to get his man, though. He had Balbirnie (2) trapped in front soon afterwards.

Naveed produced the second blow when he had Moor chopping one on to his middle stump after the Afghan pacer had rattled the furniture behind him off a no-ball two overs earlier. He also had an lbw decision reviewed and reversed as the replays showed an inside edge.

Campher, joined by Harry Tector, shared a 60-run stand for the third wicket and when it seemed that the pair would take Ireland safely towards the end of play, Zia-ur-Rehman struck.

The left-arm spinner had Campher (49) caught behind by Rahmanullah Gurbaz and then knocked back the off stump of Ireland’s third Test debutant Theo van Woerkom (1) to two deliveries that spun sharply away from the bat.

Earlier, opener Ibrahim Zadran top scored for the Afghans, with an innings of 53 off 83 balls that contained nine fours, and Karim Janat in the middle order chipped in with a useful 41 not out.

“The wicket was not easy in the first 10-15 overs,” Ibrahim Zadran said at close of play.

“I wanted to take time by not chasing every ball. Focus was on watching the ball. I wanted to go longer to be honest, I told myself not to throw my wicket.

“I think we are in a good position. We will try to get them out early, put good partnerships and a total on the board.”

Updated: February 28, 2024, 3:45 PM