Day 1: ADVANTAGE AFGHANISTAN IN ICUP CLASH ON FIRST DAY
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."
Day 2: RAMPANT RASHID LEAVES IRELAND IN TATTERS
Rashid Khan's five-wicket haul has left Ireland facing an uphill task if they are to salvage anything from their ICup clash with Afghanistan.
The teenage leg-spinner yet again wreaked havoc with the Irish line-up taking 5 for 54 as Ireland collapsed from 123 for 1 to 170 for 7 at the close of play on the second day.
Andrew Balbirnie (62) and Ed Joyce (45) had shared a second wicket stand of 117 after the early wicket of William Porterfield - one of four lbw decisions to go in Afghanistan's favour in a day which offered no shortage of controversy.
Mohammed Nabi was at the centre of one of the main talking points - claiming a catch at second slip, when he picked the ball up off the ground after dropping an Andrew Balbirnie edge.
Earlier, Afsar Zazai had benefitted from a reprieve by the umpires when he edged a Peter Chase delivery to Niall O'Brien - the umpires uncertain whether the ball had carried.
Zazai went on to score his maiden first-class century, sharing a 9th wicket century stand with Dawlat Zadran as Afghanistan piled on the runs scoring an imposing 537 for 8 declared.
Balbirnie struck 9 boundaries in a fluent 62, but his dismissal by Zahir Khan opened the door for Rashid Khan to weave his magic.
Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien and George Dockrell all went lbw to the teenager, while Gary Wilson went caught behind.
The final wicket to fall was Paul Stirling - batting at the unfamiliar position of 8 after being off the field with a hand injury - who was bowled by a superb delivery from Rashid.
Ireland resume the 3rd day 367 runs in arrears, requiring another 217 runs if they are to avoid the follow-on target.
Day 3: IRELAND SUFFER HUMILIATING DEFEAT
Ireland crashed to a comprehensive innings defeat by Afghanistan with a day to spare in their ICup clash in Greater Noida, Delhi.
The loss - only Ireland's third in the 13-year tournament history - means Afghanistan claim the full 20 points on offer, to leapfrog Ireland in pole position in the table with two rounds of matches remaining.
Resuming their first innings on 170 for 7, John Anderson showed the necessary application as he scored an unbeaten 61 from a marathon 175 balls. He has now passed the 50 mark in all five matches he has played in the competition.
He received admirable support from the tail, sharing stands of 43 with Andrew McBrine (18) for the 8th wicket and 41 for the last with Peter Chase (18) as Ireland added 91 to their overnight total taking the innings beyond the scheduled lunch break.
The determination with which the Irish tail had resisted Afghanistan and leg-spinner Rashid Khan - who failed to add to his five wicket tally - offered genuine hope that the Boys In Green could mount a heroic rearguard action.
Alas, it was not to be, as Mohammed Nabi proved to the destroyer-in-chief, taking 6 wickets for 40 runs as Ireland were skittled for just 104 in the second innings.
The dismissals of John Anderson and Ed Joyce in the same Nabi over seemed to knock any residual resistance out of the Irish, with Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson the joint top scorers with only 15 apiece.
Rashid Khan took 3 for 44 to finish like Nabi with a match haul of eight wickets.
Ireland's next match in the competition is against Netherlands at home in August before they finish with a clash with Scotland in the UAE.
They will now have to rely on results elsewhere, hoping either Hong Kong or UAE can do them a favour if they are to have any hope of retaining their title and going forward to the Test Challenge.
Before then they switch to white ball cricket, facing England in two ODI's at Bristol and Lord's on May 5 and 7.