Captain Shahidi calls for ‘big day’ from Afghan batsman in one-off Test against Ireland

'Home' team take slender lead of 26 with seven wickets in hand in Abu Dhabi Test

Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi led the way with the bat in Abu Dhabi. AFP
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Afghanistan face an uphill battle as they aim to set a challenging target in the one-off Test against Ireland in Abu Dhabi.

Ireland earned a 108-run first innings lead on Day 2 at the Tolerance Oval on Thursday before the Afghans reached 134-3 by stumps to edge ahead by 26 runs with seven wickets in hand.

Captain Hashmatullah Shahidi was unbeaten on 53 at stumps, and he will be carrying the hopes of his team on Friday.

Seamer Mark Adair, as he did in the first innings, produced two early blows and Barry McCarthy then struck late to dismiss Noor Ali in what looked like a prospering third wicket stand with Shahidi.

Ibrahim Zadran (12) was the first of the two scalps for Adair in the second innings. He edged one to Peter Moor who dived to his left and held on to a one-handed catch at third slip. Rahmat Shah (9) edged one to Lorcan Tucker behind the wicket to leave Afghanistan reeling at 38-2.

Shahidi and Ali (32) shared a 55-run stand before McCarthy had the latter caught by Adair at gully off a rising delivery.

Shahidi and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (23) saw their side through safely to stumps.

“When I went in, our main guys had fallen. There was pressure, but I kept it simple. As a captain you have to lead from the front,” Shahidi said.

“Gurbaz is a class player, and he has a lot of shots. I just told him to keep it simple, and that ‘if you play the defensive shots well, they will give the loose ball'.

“Tomorrow is a big day for us. We have to try to win the first session. I will try my best to do something for the team. It is windy, and conditions aren't easy for batting.

“If we win the first session tomorrow, the game will be on. We have our main batters waiting for their turn. The important thing is how Gurbaz and I start tomorrow.”

Earlier, Naveed Zadran (3-59) provided the early breakthrough for the Afghans as he did on the opening day. He had Harry Tector trapped in front for his third wicket with just six runs added to Ireland’s overnight score of 100-4.

Paul Sterling (52) and Tucker (46) put on a superb 80-run stand for the sixth wicket before Zahir Khan ended the partnership shortly before lunch.

The Afghan left-arm wrist spinner got one to turn back and find the gap between Sterling’s bat and pad to crash into middle stump and end a promising knock.

Tucker and Andy McBrine (38) chipped in with useful contributions as Ireland made 263 for a lead of 108.

Left-arm spinner Zia ur Rehman ran through the lower order and was the pick of Afghan bowlers with a career best 5-64.

Updated: February 29, 2024, 3:32 PM