Afghanistan 263 for 3 (Mangal 84, Shahzad 60*, Noori 44*) trail Ireland 405 (Porterfield 78, Shenwari 4-75) by 142 runs
Afghanistan seized the initiative on the second day of their Intercontinental Cup game against Ireland at Dambulla, reaching 263 for 3 at stumps with Shabir Noori, on 44 not out, and Mohammad Shahzad, unbeaten on 60 from only 62 balls, holding firm.
The pair came together with the game finely balanced at 178 for 3, and added 85 in just under 20 overs to wrest the ascendancy back from Ireland after Andre Botha had ended Noori and captain Nowroz Mangal's 105-run partnership. Mangal had looked set for a maiden first-class hundred before he edged Botha through to Niall O'Brien behind the stumps to depart for 84.
Afghanistan had made a good start to their innings earlier, with Karim Sadiq and Noor Ali putting together 72 before Gary Kidd and Peter Connell struck in quick succession to remove both openers and leave Afghanistan wobbling at 74 for 2. Ireland had to wait 33 overs for their next breakthrough, however, with Noori and Mangal obstinate at the crease.
The highlight of the morning was John Mooney's unbeaten 58, which broke his duck after he had failed to score in his first two first-class innings. Ireland had resumed at 324 for 7, and were soon eight wickets down as legspinner Samiullah Shenwari snapped up Trent Johnston to claim his fourth scalp of the innings. Kidd scratched around for 18 balls before edging Hameed Hasan, but Connell was more enterprising, cracking four boundaries in his 18 before having his stumps rattled by Shapoor Zadran. His tenacious 66-run partnership with Mooney, who accumulated runs steadily at the other end, carried Ireland past 400, which had looked like a sterling effort.
The Irish badly need a victory in this game after drawing against Kenya and Scotland, but that is looking increasingly unlikely with Afghanistan making a fist of things today to build a foundation for a massive first innings total.