Afghanistan v Ireland, Intercontinental Cup, Dambulla, 1st day January 21, 2010

Ireland edge a fluctuating day

Cricinfo staff
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Half-centuries from William Porterfield, Gary Wilson and Niall O'Brien helped Ireland shade a fluctuating opening day against Afghanistan, despite a flurry of wickets for legspinner Samiullah Shenwari.

With Ireland still looking for their first victory in the tournament, things looked good for them as Porterfield won the toss, elected to bat and started brightly with Wilson. The opening partnership put on 120 in 28.3 overs before Wilson was defeated by the offspin of Mohammad Nabi for 53.

A solid 50-run stand for the second wicket took Ireland to 170 for one and appeared to set them up for a big total. But Afghanistan fought back strongly by first removing Porterfield, to Hameed Hasan, and then claiming three more wickets to reduce Ireland to 231 for five.

Alex Cusack, Andre Botha and Kevin O'Brien fell in quick succession, with Shenwari claiming all three, including Botha for a seven-ball duck. With Afghanistan chipping their way into a strong position, experienced wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien combined with Andrew White to put their side back on top. The pair shared a stand of 87, before Karim Sadiq struck eight overs from the close to remove O'Brien for 66. Another wicket followed three overs later as Hasan claimed his second scalp of the day, having White caught for 43.

Before the match both captains spoke highly of each other's teams and after an intriguing opening salvo, the respect will only have grown.