Test Match Day 3

Well my rugby predictions were no help to Ireland or England, but congratulations to Wales on winning the six nations. An early night in order to be up bright and breezy for a big third days play did not go to plan. Our ordered taxi to the ground was an hour late, so much so we followed the first half hours play on the IPad at the hotel!!

It was from there that I heard the inside edge from Stirlos bat. Shame the umpire couldn’t hear it from 22 yards. It is a very poor show having no DRS in this match. It is badly needed in these fixtures. Until it is universal, cracking matches like this will always be burdened with calls of what might have been depending on ridiculously poor umpiring.

We missed the next half hours play journeying to the ground but thankfully there were no dramas. We arrived at drinks with 56/2 on the board. Shortly after drinks, James McCollum showed his class by timing two wonderful cuts to the cover boundary. There appeared to be an increase in excessive appealing from the Afghans, as James with Balbo brought up their 50 partnership in 32nd. Balbo imperiously moved to his own half century in 35th, calling for his cap to replace the helmet in the process.

The 100 was brought up in 36th, but the excessive appealing continued. Both batsmen were picking up singles and putting away the bad balls as the partnership grew. Lunch came with the score on 124/2, with Balbo on 73 and James on 35. Talk amongst the supporters who were decked out in their St Patricks day attire, were optimistic, hoping for at least a 150 run lead and maybe more.

Candy Balbirnie reminds Ashley he promised to go to swing dancing lessons to which he exclaims ‘I will go with you for definite if we can win the game’. Brash promises can sometimes come back to haunt you!

The 100 partnership comes up just after lunch and then disaster as Balbo is caught behind off Waqar for 80. 137/3 and Kevin O’ Brien joins James. Two overs pass by before James is LBW to Rashid for 39 from a ball that stays low; Stuey is next man in and Ireland move into credit as he avoids the pair. Two wickets fall quickly as Stuey cutting is removed by a stunning slip catch off Waqar and Stuart Thompson is rather unfortunate when ct at slip off Rashid. 157/6, Kevin remains resolute as he is joined at the crease by Georgie.

They patiently and attentively see us through to drinks at 63 overs. Kevin is dropped bat pad off Nabi, but they move on to bring up the 200 in 71st. Shahzad shows off his total lack of foot work on the third man boundary as the 50 partnership comes up. Kevin brings up a patient deserved half century in 75th and we move on to 220/6 at tea. A break again spells trouble for Ireland as George, third ball after tea, falls foul of yet another questionable LBW decision for 25.

Two more quick wickets follow as Kevin is LBW to Rashid for 56 and Andy McBrine is stumped sweeping off Rashid. The wily leg spinner has a Michelle (Pfeiffer). There is no doubt he is a talent but without DRS a number of his victims can feel a little aggrieved.230/9...

Tim, the hero of the first innings strides meaningfully to the crease to join JCD. There are some helpful fields set as the 100 lead comes up in the 86th and the 250 total in 87th. JCD starts to flay some swashbuckling strokes and pummels four quick boundaries. Not to be outdone, Tim decides to join in and a second Irish 10th wicket partnership in the match is achieved in the 91st.

This partnership is really fun and exciting to watch The Afghans seem to be getting concerned as Tim hits to the mid-wicket boundary again. Tim again hits high into the deep but is caught bringing the spectacle to a close. Tim out for 27, JCD 32 not out in a 58 partnership. A wonderful effort, 288 all out with a lead of 146.

A 10 minute changeround gives us about 45 minutes left to play. George and Andy open the bowling. Tight accurate stuff with 1 run off the first five overs and 4 off nine. Then success, Shahzad tickles Andy down the legside where he is superbly caught by Stuey. 5/1 in the 10th. Rahmat Shah joins Insahlah and the tight bowling continues. Shah gives a bat pad chance off Andy – not out. Successive balls from George are hit for 6&4 and ease some of the pressure. JCD has one over before the close 29/1 off 16 overs.

The supporters met up for drinks at the Ramada and optimism continues to be the name of the game. Poor umpiring aside if only we had got another 75 runs ahead. Anecdotes of sides failing to chase small totals are thrown around like confetti and it only adds to our growing belief that it can still be done, but...

The match is delicately poised with the bookies favouring Afghanistan, but early wickets will swing the odds dramatically. Better make sure the taxi is booked a little earlier in the morning!