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Dockrell strikes put Ireland in command

Afghanistan ends third day on 136 for 5, chasing a daunting 347 for victory

Dockrell strikes put Ireland in command - Cricket News
Niall O’Brien top scored for Ireland with a solid 87.
A batting collapse triggered by George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, left Afghanistan facing a tall order with Ireland holding all the aces in the Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai on Thursday (December 12).
 
Set a target of 347, Afghanistan ended the third day on 136 for 5, with Dockrell having claimed three wickets to put his side in sight of victory.
 
At the start of play, Ireland, overnight on 159 for 2 and leading by 164 runs, lost Ed Joyce in the first over of the day. Joyce departed for a well-made 78, bowled by an inswinger from Dawlat Zardan. However, Niall O’Brien, the other overnight batsman, continued to hold strong, putting together an 81-run stand for the fourth wicket with Andrew White.
 
Rahmat Shah, the legspinner who had taken three wickets in the first innings, broke the stand, trapping White in front with a googly. Shah struck again soon after, when he had John Anderson caught at first slip by Nawroz Mangal, leaving Ireland 250 for 5.
 
Niall O’Brien fell eight runs later for 87, but a 42-run stand for the eighth wicket between Kevin O’Brien and Trent Johnston (31) helped stretch Ireland’s total, before it was eventually bowled out for 341. Mohammad Nabi, the Afghanistan captain, was the most successful bowler with 4 for 38, including Kevin O’Brien’s wicket for a 43-ball 47.
 
Afghanistan made a shaky start in pursuit of the target, with Shabir Noori trapped in front by Johnston in the first over. Mohammad Shahzad and Mangal then collaborated for a 57-run stand, but both failed to build on their starts and were dismissed within four overs of each other, leaving Afghanistan 75 for 3.
 
Dockrell had accounted for Shahzad (39) when the batsman wanted to deposit a flighted delivery out of the park but only ended up hitting it straight back to the bowler. Four overs later, Dockrell struck twice, getting Asghar Stanikzai and Afsar Zazai in the 22nd over, as Ireland’s grip on the match tightened with Afghanistan struggling at 85 for 5.
  
Rahmat Shah and Nabi made sure no further damage was done to the wickets column with an unbroken 51-run stand, but the early strikes had left Afghanistan facing a daunting task. At stumps, Shah was unbeaten on 35 with Nabi on 25, while Dockrell had proved economical as well as incisive, giving up only 28 runs in 16 overs for his three wickets.
  
With two days to go still, Ireland will aim for cricketing history. If Ireland wins, it will become the first team to win three ICC tournaments across three different formats in a calendar year, adding to its triumph in the World Cricket League Championship in the 50-over format in October, and its victory in the ICC World Twenty20 qualifying tournament in November. 

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