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Murtagh saves Ireland's blushes as Afghanistan gain control in Dehradun

Afg v Ire, Only Test, day 1 report

Afghanistan gained ascendancy over Ireland on day one of both teams' second-ever Test, marching to 90/2 in the first innings after bowling out Ireland for 172 despite Tim Murtagh's rescue act from No.11.

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Tim Murtagh's 54 from No.11 and an 87-run tenth-wicket partnership with George Dockrell helped Ireland save their blushes after Afghanistan had them on the mat at 85/9 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Dehradun on Friday, 15 March.

Murtagh hit four boundaries and two sixes in his 74-ball blitz even as Dockrell battled for his 39 runs off 100 balls with six boundaries, and the duo curtailed Afghanistan bowlers' free run that had demolished the Ireland top order and reduced them to 69/7 at lunch.

In reply, Afghanistan lost an early wicket too, when debutant Ihsanullah was trapped lbw by James Cameron-Dow for seven but Mohammad Shahzad and Rahmat Shah ensured Afghanistan would not suffer the same fate as their opponents with a 41-run second-wicket stand.

Shahzad was at his usual aggressive self, hitting 40 runs off 64 balls with six fours and a six before Cameron-Dow returned towards the end of the day to catch the opener off his own bowling.

Rahmat Shah remained unbeaten on 22 off 56 balls with four boundaries and Hashmatullah Shahidi gave him company on 13* off 35 balls with one four.

Ireland captain William Porterfield won the toss and elected to bat, and shared a 37-run opening stand with Paul Stirling in the first 8.4 overs.

They hit eight boundaries in the first five overs to give Ireland a rapid start but that was the only thing that went the visitors' way all day as Afghanistan struck back and Ireland lost five wickets inside the first 15 overs to be reduced to 55/5.

Mohammad Nabi, Yamin Ahmadzai and Rashid Khan were all among the wickets as Nabi pinned Porterfield (9) lbw and Ahmadzai got Stirling (26) caught behind in successive overs.

Andy Balbirnie got the first runs of his Test career with an edge past the slip cordon, but that was the only boundary he would score as Ahmadzai got through the batsman's defence and ended the innings on four.

Tim Murtagh rescued Ireland with his maiden Test half-century batting at No.11
Tim Murtagh rescued Ireland with his maiden Test half-century batting at No.11

Khan then took over, sending back debutant James McCollum for four before trapping Stuart Poynter (0) lbw. Kevin O'Brien, the lone Ireland centurion in Test cricket, was the one to fall next, dismissed lbw by Nabi for 12, and when Stuart Thompson (3) became Nabi's third wicket of the session, Ireland were in trouble at lunch.

The first 10 overs of the second session had the remaining three Ireland debutants in action. Andy McBrine (3) lost his stumps on the third ball after lunch before George Dockrell and James Cameron-Dow (9) added a small 16-run stand for the ninth wicket but occupied the crease for nearly an hour.

Left-arm wrist-spin bowler Waqar Salamkheil, also on debut, accounted for both McBrine and Cameron-Dow before Murtagh and Dockrell got together to revive Ireland with their last-wicket stand. Ireland were bowled out at the stroke of tea.

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