Andy Balbirnie showed a captain’s composure to lead Ireland to an historic first Test match win in Abu Dhabi yesterday, scoring an unbeaten half-century that saw his side beat Afghanistan with six wickets to spare.

The margin of victory belies a nervy third-afternoon chase of 111 as Ireland wobbled on 13-3 but Balbirnie stood tall, steadying the ship alongside best mate Paul Stirling and then partnering Lorcan Tucker in a match-winning stand of 72.

The skipper had looked out of sorts during his brief first innings but didn’t put a foot wrong when it mattered, with his presence and cool head at the crease as important as his 58 not out, the highest score of an absorbing contest

Tucker was impressive too, working the ball around intelligently to keep the scoreboard moving, and finishing unbeaten on 27 when he scampered the winning run to the delight of the 20-odd Ireland fans inside the Tolerance Oval.

Balbirnie and Tucker saw Ireland home in a 72 unbroken partnership (ACB)

While the fifth-wicket pair deserve their plaudits, the victory was earned on the backs of the Ireland seam attack who took 19 of the 20 Afghanistan wickets and maintained excellent lines and lengths throughout.

Mark Adair had already added two wickets to his first innings haul of five going into what proved to be the final day, and he struck another crucial blow early on by removing Afghan skipper Hasmatullah Shahidi lbw for 55.

Whole-hearted Barry McCarthy grabbed a wicket either side of lunch for figures of 3-48 and four in total, while Craig Young took two in two and then hit the stumps again to end the Afghanistan second innings on 218.

“The lads are absolutely buzzing,” Balbirnie said. “To get over the line and win a Test match as soon as we have is fantastic.

“It was a really good session this morning. We were very disciplined and dried up the runs. It was a bit nervy with the chase early on but over the three days I think we deserved the win.”

Every player contributed to the win, even opener PJ Moor, who failed twice with the bat, held a sensational catch in the gully on the second evening, while spinner Theo van Woerkom chipped in by ending a worrying eighth-wicket stand yesterday (FRI).

Adair’s return of 8-95 - the best by an Ireland bowler in eight Tests - won him the Player of the Match award, and he could prove a handful for Zimbabwe when Ireland next don the whites in his home town of Belfast at the end of July.

Adair, McCarthy and Young on a green top at Stormont? After waiting six years for a Test win, could two come along together?