Stanikzai century puts Afghanistan in control
ADVANTAGE AFGHANISTAN IN ICUP CLASH
It's advantage Afghanistan after a gruelling first day for Ireland in their ICup clash in the heat and humidity of Greater Noida .
Afghanistan skipper Ashgar Stanikzai's undefeated 110 took his side to a commanding 357 for 6 at the close, and with their strength in depth will be looking to set Ireland a first-innings chase well in excess of 400.
Having lost the toss Ireland knew they were in for a hard day's graft on a slow pitch which offered no assistance to the seamers, and only a little encouragement to the spinners.
Andrew McBrine took the only wicket of the morning session as he trapped Shabir Noori for 15, but it was Afghanistan who dominated proceedings.
Mohammed Shahzad (85) and Rahmat Shah (46) added 106 for the second wicket, before both were dismissed by John Anderson (2-68) - who was preferred to Jacob Mulder as the leg-spinning option.
Stanikzai and Nasir Jamal (73) reinforced Afghanistan's strong position as they added 144 for the fourth wicket, taking advantage on anything remotely loose. Stanikazai cleared the ropes five times in his innings, as his side hit 10 sixes in addition to 36 fours in a punishing batting display.
There was some late hope for the Irish, as Peter Chase (1-70) broke the stand with the second new ball, as Jamal feathered a wide delivery to keeper Niall O'Brien.
McBrine (2-76) then had Shahidi caught at slip by Gary Wilson, while the real bonus for Ireland was the dismissal of the hard-hitting Mohammed Nabi, who hit George Dockrell straight to Chase at mid-off.
However Stanikzai proved the immovable object, batting through to the close of play. The pitch, which was expected to deteriorate considerably, has so far remained largely true.
However, the Irish will likely face a trial by spin on the second day as they look to battle their way back into the contest, a fact acknowledged by Niall O'Brien.
"It's been a tough day obviously as we've only picked up six wickets," said O'Brien. "However those three wickets near the end, especially the important one of Mohammed Nabi has given us some encouragement.
"Hopefully we'll come back fresh in the morning and be batting by lunchtime."
ICC InterContinental Cup, Greater Noida, Day 1 of 4
Afghanistan 357-6 (96 overs; A Stanikzai 110*, M Shahzad 85, N Jamal 73, R Shah 46, J Anderson 2-68, A McBrine 2-76)
Ireland yet to bat