Ireland crumble in the heat as batting collapse leaves Bracewell's men on the brink

It was another tough day at the office for Ireland in Greater Noida as Afghanistan wreaked havoc.

Ireland head coach John Bracewell.
Ireland head coach John Bracewell.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

THESE ARE WORRYING, and desperate, times for Ireland. The swagger has gone, the air of invincibility at this level has quickly evaporated and the prospect of a Test playoff is now slipping from their grasp.

It would be far more positive to take the first two days of this crucial Intercontinental Cup fixture against Afghanistan in isolation, but the reality is that the display so far has been indicative of Ireland’s performances over the last 24 months; the team is on a downward spiral and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Rashid Khan, the teenage leg-spinner who caused serious damage during the recent ODI and Twenty20 series, both of which were won by Afghanistan, wreaked havoc on the second day in Greater Noida as he claimed five wickets to leave Ireland on the brink of a big defeat.

It may be stretching it to say John Bracewell, the head coach, is coming under increasing scrutiny but, once again, his batting order was dismantled with such ease that Ireland head into the third day still 367 runs in arrears with just three first innings wickets in hand.

Following on from Afghanistan’s mammoth 537/8 declared, the visitors struggled to 170/7 at the close of play on Wednesday.

With Ireland leading the I-Cup table heading into the game, a draw here would be good enough to keep the hopes of qualifying for a Test playoff on track but it’s now an uphill task if they are to salvage anything from this game.

Andrew Balbirnie (62) and Ed Joyce (45) briefly led the fightback with a second wicket stand of 117 but Ireland were abject thereafter, although were unlucky to be on the wrong end of two controversial incidents.

Andrew Balbirnie departs after making 97 Andrew Balbirnie top scored for Ireland. Source: Barry Chambers/INPHO

Balbirnie edged behind to Mohammed Nabi at second slip, with the Afghanistan captain claiming the catch despite replays clearly showing it had hit the ground first.

Earlier, centurion Afsar Zazai had benefited from a reprieve when he edged a Peter Chase delivery to Niall O’Brien but the umpires gave him not out after being undecided if it carried or not.

Nevertheless, this was another tough day at the office for Ireland and there are few positives to take as they head into day three needing another 217 runs to avoid the follow on.

Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland have confirmed the squads for the 2017 Toyota Super 3 series.

The Dragons, Scorchers and Typhoons will be coached by Rob O’Connor, Andrew Poynter and Clare Shillington respectively.

The domestic Twenty20 and 50-over competitions will see 49 players go head-to-head over the course of the summer, with Irish internationals Laura Delaney and Kim Garth among those involved.

The first game of the series is scheduled for Sunday 28 May with Irish women’s head coach, Aaron Hamilton, expecting a high standard throughout.

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Leah Paul, Lucy OÕReilly and Shauna Kavanagh Irish internationals Lucy O'Reilly (centre) and Shauna Kavanagh (right) along with Leah Paul. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Dragons: Shauna Kavanagh (capt) (Pembroke), Katie Boylan (The Hills), Alana Dalzell (Bready), Rachel Delaney (Merrion), Amy Hunter (Instonians), Cecelia Joyce, (Merrion), Gaby Lewis (YMCA), Shana Lipson Ngai (North Kildare), Hannah Little (Pembroke), Lara Maritz (Malahide), Tess Maritz (Malahide), Caoimhe McCann (Malahide), Louise McCarthy (Pembroke), Ciara Metcalfe (The Hills), Ruby Neville (Merrion), Mary Waldron (Malahide)

Scorchers: Kim Garth (capt) (Pembroke), Aoife Beggs (YMCA), Aisling Byrne (The Hills), Hannah de Burgh Whyte (Merrion), Isobel Joyce (Merrion), Anna Kerrison, (Leinster), Anna Kirk (Clontarf), Julie Logue (Burndennett), Orla Martin, (Phoenix), Cathy Murphy (Pembroke), Cara Murray (Saintfield), Lucy O’Reilly, (YMCA), Orla Prendergast (Pembroke), Jemma Rankin (Bready), Una Raymond Hoey (Leinster), Rebecca Stokell (Leinster), Cliona Tucker (Pembroke).

Typhoons: Laura Delany (capt) (Leinster), Laura Boylan (The Hills), Sadhbh Breslin, (Merrion), Jennifer Gray (YMCA), Vanessa Kelada (Leinster), Amy Kenealy, (Leinster), Robyn Lewis (YMCA), Louise Little (Pembroke), Sophie MacMahon (Leinster), Kate McKenna (Merrion), Natasha Morton (North Down), Leah Paul (Merrion), Ellen Ridgeway (Leinster), Rebecca Rolfe (Leinster), Clare Shillington (YMCA), Amy Benson (North Down).

ICC Intercontinental Cup, Day 2 of 4:

Afghanistan 537/8 dec (138.5 overs; A Stanikzai 145, A Zazai 103*, M Shahzad 85, N Jamal 73, G Dockrell 3-160, J Anderson 2-92, A McBrine 2-98)

Ireland 170/7 (51 overs; A Balbirnie 62, E Joyce 45, Rashid Khan 5-54)

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