Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND had to be satisfied with 13 points for a winning draw in their Intercontinental Cup match against Afghanistan but it was still three more than it looked as if they were going to get when rain washed out the first seven sessions of the match.
Still, the extra points extends Ireland's lead in the Cup table to 21 points, so basically they can afford to lose one of their last three games and still regain the title which they won on three successive occasions from 2005-2010. The tournament now takes an eight months break before Ireland travel to the UAE, with games against the Netherlands and Scotland next summer.
The game may have lasted only 156 overs, but it will never be forgotten by Stuart Thompson, the Limavady all-rounder who was given his Ireland cap on Wednesday afternoon and yesterday afternoon, in his second over, he took his first wicket.
Javed Ahmadi may not be the biggest name in international cricket but it will do Thompson for starters and he followed up with two more to finish with three for 51.
He said: "It was nice to contribute with the ball and show the lads what I can do. Once I got the wicket I got into a rhythm and was able to maintain that throughout my spell.
"It's only the start of my career and I haven't done anything yet so hopefully it's the start of bigger and better things."
Thompson has also heard he has been offered a trial with Kent, following an impressive performance against the county for Ireland A in May.
First, though, he will be named today in the Ireland squad for next week's T20 internationals against Bangladesh as he gets another chance to further his senior career before his 21st birthday next month.
It wasn't all good news for Ireland yesterday as John Mooney dislocated a thumb when taking the catch to end the 106 runs opening partnership, which ultimately prevented Ireland from completing the victory. He was having an x-ray last night hoping there is no break which will keep him out of next week's action against the team they are targeting in all three forms of the game.
The catching and fielding also let Ireland down yesterday after Gary Wilson and Andrew White put on 119 for the fourth wicket to hurry Ireland to the declaration.
Andrew Balbirnie dropped Ahmadi off Trent Johnston in the half hour before lunch with the score on just three, and by the time Andrew White failed to hold on to a sharp chance at slip off Mohammad Nabi, time had just about run out for Ireland to claim the outright win.