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Match Report
CricketEurope/Ger Siggins/David Townshend/Ian Callender

Day 1 (Ian Callender)

It could not have started any better for Ireland with William Porterfield winning the toss but three balls after lunch Ireland were 69-8 and their first overseas Test match was turning into a nightmare.

The record books were being scoured to find out the length of the shortest Test and when Ireland lost their ninth wicket just 16 runs later, they were still big odds against reaching the respectability of three figures, especially as the next man in was Tim Murtagh.

Ireland's opening bowler had faced three balls on this tour before yesterday and was dismissed on both occasions without scoring. But not only did he show the rest of his team-mates how to see off Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and company, he scored his first half century for eight years and was left stranded 54 not out when George Dockrell was caught behind.

Almost two hours after the fall of the eighth wicket, the record books were being thumbed through again and this time they showed Murtagh had made the highest score by an Ireland No 11, the third highest ever in Test cricket when a No 11 had top scored and halfway through their second Test match, the ‘Lambeth Lara' had Ireland's highest batting average (64), the best strike rate (75) and the most sixes.

He actually has no challenger for the latter record at the moment because he has hit Ireland's only two maximums, both off Nabi, who he hit out of the attack.

Murtagh also had to face 22 balls from Ireland's nemesis Rashid Khan in an innings which has set the standard for all Ireland's future Test No 11s. Murtagh's partnership with Dockrell, who made 39 in his first Test innings, was 87, the second highest for the 10th wicket.

It took Ireland comfortably past their first Test total against Pakistan at Malahide of 130, when they faced a first innings deficit of 180 and they will be hugely disappointed if Afghanistan get anywhere near that advantage today.

The ‘home side' finished the first day on 90-2, still 82 behind with Dockrell, after his batting high, mysteriously given only the last of the 31 overs which Ireland bowled yesterday evening.

James Cameron-Dow, one of Ireland's five Test debutants, took both wickets although he was twice as expensive as the rest of the attack. Andy McBrine, again, was economical but hardly threatening enough to have been given 13 overs against four right-handers and there was no luck for Murtagh and Thompson.

Thompson was the surprise, and possibly shrewd, selection when Ireland announced their team, coming in for Boyd Rankin who was left out because it was such a slow pitch and the Eglinton man is a superior batsman. Like the rest of the top seven, however, he was caught in the headlights as opening bowler Javed Ahmadzai, Rashid – who bowled James McCollum with his first ball - and Nabi ripped through the Ireland batting, reducing them from 37-0 to 62-7 in the space of 14 overs.

Chinaman bowler Waqar Salamkheil, one of three Afghanistan Test debutants, bamboozled McBrine and Cameron-Dow but Dockrell hit four of his six boundaries off him in his marathon 100-ball innings, 25 more than Murtagh, who also hit a quartet of fours to go with his two sixes.

Between them Murtagh and Dockrell faced only 10 balls less than the rest of the team put together and, much like at Malahide last May, they will be grateful for a second innings and the chance to put things right.

Day 2 (Ger Siggins)

Today marks the 12th anniversary of Irish cricket's finest moment, the one that opened the door to all that has gone since including this landmark first away Test match. That St Patrick's Day 2007 win over Pakistan in Jamaica is half a world from this north Indian venue, but a similar feat of grit and passion will be required to secure a victory over Afghanistan.

From a near-hopeless position at lunch on day one, Ireland have fought back twice but still find themselves 120 runs away from making their hosts bat again and needing several career-defining performances to get something out of the game,

One of the two survivors from 2007, William Porterfield, won't be providing one of them, lasting just two deliveries at the start of the second innings. Ireland will hope that the other, Kevin O'Brien, can repeat his Malahide innings but that may be too much to hope for on a slow, low pitch against high quality spin.

Ireland's own bowlers toiled hard yesterday, but found nothing in the pitch and Afghanistan got to lunch without loss. Andy McBrine made the breakthrough, beating Hashmatullah Shahidi (61) to end a stand of 130 with Rahmat Shah, who dragged Tim Murtagh onto his stumps soon after for 98.

Ashgar Afghan marshalled his lower order to extend the lead, but he and the dangerous Mohammed Nabi both fell to Stuart Thompson.

The Eglinton man took 3-28 and afterwards said, "It was hard work out there, as the wicket didn't offer us very much, but we knew if we kept going with tight lines and good lengths we'd get our rewards eventually.

"Today was all about keeping their runs down – we didn't score enough in the first innings, to be honest, and we were about keeping their run-rate down and then going bang, bang with the wickets."

George Dockrell took some stick from the aggressive Ashgar but picked up two deserved scalps as the spinners started to find purchase. His fellow left-armer, the much-less experienced James Cameron-Dow, appeared nervous and bowled too short, costing over five an over and taking pressure off the batsmen.

Day 3 (David Townshend)

Andy Balbirnie and Kevin O'Brien battled to half-centuries on a slow, wearing pitch as Ireland gave themselves a sniff of victory by setting Afghanistan a tricky 147 to win in the one-off Test in north-east India.

Balbirnie struck 11 fours in a top quality knock of 82 while O'Brien passed 40 for the third time in four Test innings - his assured 56 from 78 balls included seven boundaries before he was the final victim of three poor decisions by umpire Sunderarm Ravi.

It needed a last-wicket stand of 58 between Tim Murtagh and James Cameron-Dow to take Ireland to 288 all out and give the bowlers something to work with, and Andy McBrine grabbed the key wicket of Mohammad Shazad before Afghanistan closed on 29-1.

"It was a day that ebbed and flowed," Balbirnie said. "We got into a good position and I was disappointed to get out when I did. It was just a lack of concentration. We've talked about going big in these games and I was well set."

Asked about the lack of a Decision Review System, which is standard at most Test matches, he said: "I guess it's the same for both sides."

Paul Stirling was the first to rue the lack of DRS technology when Ravi missed a big inside edge and adjudged him lbw for 14 but Balbirnie then found a good foil in young James McCollum who grew in confidence during a third-wicket partnership of 104.

At lunch, Ireland were only 18 in arrears with eight wickets standing but Balbirnie's edge behind precipitated another middle order collapse with McCollum palpably lbw on the back foot for 39, Stuart Poynter superbly held at slip and Stuart Thompson caught via and inside edge and pad.

O'Brien and George Dockrell steadied the ship, allowing Ireland to again dream of a lead in access of 200, as they added 63 for the seventh wicket, only for both to be sawn off by lbw decisions when at best the ball would have been kissing leg-stump.

To Afghanistan's frustration, last-man Murtagh again found batting comfortable as he made 27 to add to his top score of 54 not out in the first innings and Ireland became only the third team in Test history to manage two 50+ partnerships for the 10th wicket in the same match.

Day 4 (CricketEurope)

Ireland skipper William Porterfield reflected on his side's seven wicket loss, ruing their abject batting display in the first innings.

"It was obviously going to be a tough ask today defending 147, but it was the first innings where it went wrong for us," the Irish captain said after the defeat on the stroke of lunch on Monday.

"I thought at the time that winning the toss was a big toss to win, and any multi-day game you have to capitalise in the first innings. If we had done that, if we had batted remotely like we did in the second innings in that first innings, then I think it could have been a completely different game.

"Instead you would have been then chasing a score upward of 280 or 300, which would have been a completely different story. But take nothing away from Afghanistan and how they played, they played well throughout the game and came out deserved winners."

Porterfield was proud of the efforts of his team, particularly the five players winning a Test cap for the first time.

"This was our second Test, with five lads making their debut, but I'm very happy with the lads that came in, how they went about the game and how they prepared. You obviously want them to kick on and make big contributions – we just didn't do that in the first innings and from there you're always looking at coming back into the game from there. However, Afghanistan never let us do that, so you have to give congratulations to them."

It's been a long six weeks on the road for Ireland, who played a T20I quadrangular in Oman ahead of T20 and ODI series against the hosts as well as the Test.

"It's been a long tour - the lads had been in Oman before they came here - and to see the same ground and the same hotel every day can get a little long, but they have been very good, and when you have a Test match at the back end of the tour then you're never tired of being here. It's a special occasion to play Test cricket, and we're lucky enough to have done that now."

Ireland are next in action when they face England at Malahide in early May, and it's the start of a busy month with further ODI's scheduled against West Indies, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.