'A historic day for Afghanistan' - Asghar Afghan
Captain praises Rashid Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai and Waqar Salamkheil for setting up the victory by bowling Ireland out for 172 in the first innings
History awaited them - a first-ever Test match win - but Afghanistan were still 118 runs off from the mark at the start of the fourth day in Dehradun. And a fourth-innings chase is nothing to be scoffed at, especially in India, where it's been five years since anyone has taken down a target over 125. But Rahmat Shah and Ihsanullah played with the calmness that is normally found in Test-match veterans, both men reaching fifties to ease the team's passage into the record books.
How were they able to stay so calm? Well, their captain Asghar Afghan felt it was because of the domestic cricket they have played back home. "We have played a lot of multi-day cricket and automatically we have matured because of that," he said at the post-match presentation. "Nowadays we are playing first-class cricket at home as well. Before we played three-day, two-day cricket but now we're playing first-class.
"Playing Test cricket was our dream and today we played our second Test and we won the game. It is a historic day for Afghanistan, for Afghanistan people, for our team, for our cricket board."
Not many teams have tasted success in Test cricket as early as Afghanistan https://t.co/sOa81PaFbS #AFGvIRE pic.twitter.com/nOkoNSLhMh— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) March 18, 2019
The seven-wicket victory, though, was set up by the bowlers, with seamer Yamin Ahmadzai and spinners Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Waqar Salamkheil bowling Ireland out for 172 in the first innings after they had won the toss and chosen to bat. And that is significant because it's been six years since a non-Indian side has won a Test despite losing the toss in this country.
"I would like to congratulate the bowlers especially, Rashid, Waqar, Yamin, because the wicket was good for batting." Asghar said.
Ireland captain William Porterfield also pointed to their first innings as a turning point in the game. "I thought at the time, I fancied winning the toss, it was a big toss to win. Any multi-day game, you have to capitalise on your first innings. If we batted remotely like our second innings [when they made 288] in our first innings, I think it could've been a completely different game," Porterfield said.
"You're taking about chasing upwards of 280-300, which could've been a completely different story. But taking nothing away from how Afghanistan played. They played very well throughout the whole game and came out deserved winners.
"It's still their second game, five lads making their debut… but I'm glad with they way they came in and went about it. How prepared they were. You want the lads to kick on and make big contributions and obviously we didn't do that in the first innings and you're always looking to come back into the game from that and once Afghanistan got past us, they never really let us do that."