Mark Adair wickets give Ireland edge against Afghanistan in one-off Test

ABU DHABI  -  A first five-wicket haul in Test cricket for Mark Adair put Ireland in a strong position after the opening day of their oneoff Test against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The Northern Irish all-rounder posted figures of 5-39 to help bowl the opposition out for 155 after Afghan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and elected to bat. An otherwise excellent day for Ireland was dampened by the late fall of the wickets of Curtis Campher for 49, ending a 60-run third-wicket stand with Harry Tector, and of nightwatchman Theo van Woerkom.

Ireland appeared to be cruising in reply until a late Afghan fight-back led by spinner Ziaur- Rehman left Andy Balbirnie’s side four wickets down and 55 runs short of the Afghan total. With less than half an hour of play left in the day, the Afghanistan left-armer claimed Campher, one shy of a half-century, and Van Woerkom clean bowled.

Without their injured talisman Rashid Khan, Afghanistan struggled to find fluency in their first innings and only had four batters reach double figures on what appeared to be a good batting surface. Mark Adair opened his account for the day in the seventh over when he had Noor Ali Zadran caught by Balbirnie for just seven. 

Then when fellow opener Ibrahim Zadran, Noor Ali’s nephew, fell for 53 it capped off a middle-order collapse where Afghanistan went from 66-3 to 90-6. An undefeated 41 from Karim Janat, however, gave them some respectability. Ireland’s response seemed to be faltering when both openers fell within 10 overs until the partnership of Campher and Tector.

Still without a win since gaining Test status in 2017, Ireland will resume play on day two with Tector (32 not out) and Paul Stirling in the middle. Afghanistan also became a Test nation in the same year and have since claimed three wins in the format, including one against Ireland in 2019.

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