AFGHANISTAN V IRELAND IN INDIA
Cricbuzz Staff •
Rahmat Shah essayed a steady unbeaten fifty © Getty
Sometimes the scoreboards do tell you a story, and this one is a story of sheer attrition. 67 runs in a 30-over session, with the first hour of 16 overs resulting in only 20, in what has been a morning of slow but sure tightening of the noose by the two overnight batsmen, Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi.
Ireland, clearly without a lot of runs to play around with, came out with a plan to work on the otherwise temperamental Afghans by setting defensive fields, bowling predictable, tight accurate lines and drying out the runs. Stuart Thompson and Tim Murtagh operated with a silly mid-on, a silly mid-off, a short catching cover and the ‘keeper up to the stumps. Both batsmen, though, didn’t seem flustered, defending solidly, with the odd failed attempt to go on the offensive.
A switch seemed to tick over at drinks though. With the bowlers tiring in their long spells, Rahmat upped the ante, stroking a flurry of boundaries in the overs that followed to bring up his maiden Test fifty off a patient 121 balls.
Meanwhile, William Porterfield missed out on an opportunity to use his best bowler from yesterday – James Cameron-Dow – before the batsmen could settle down, because by the time he was brought on, his side were already on the defensive. It also didn’t help their cause that it was his bowling that the duo of Rahmat-Shahidi went after.
So, with only 15 runs to knock off before getting into the lead, and with no real help for the bowlers off the pitch, the next session could spell further trouble for the Irish, who already look lost for answers.
Brief scores: Ireland 172 (Tim Murtagh 54, George Dockrell 39; Mohammad Nabi 3-36, Yamin Ahmadzai 3-41) lead Afghanistan 157-2 (Rahmat Shah 59, Hashmatullah Shahidi 43; James Cameron-Dow 2-55) by 15 runs