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Test play-off place slipping out of grasp as Ireland slump to huge Afghanistan defeat

John Bracewell’s side have been beaten by an innings and 172 runs in Greater Noida.

Ireland coach John Bracewell.
Ireland coach John Bracewell.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND’S HOPES OF securing Test status suffered a massive blow today as John Bracewell’s side fell to a comprehensive Intercontinental Cup defeat at the hands of Afghanistan.

The top two sides in the competition have been going head-to-head in the sweltering Indian heat over the past three days knowing that victory would put them in pole position to contest a play-off to secure Test status later this year.

Ireland were already up against it heading into today’s play before they eventually fell to a loss by an innings and 172 runs in Greater Noida, Delhi.

It is only Ireland’s third defeat in the tournament’s 13-year history and crucially sees Afghanistan move ahead of Bracewell’s side in the standings with two rounds of matches remaining.

Afghanistan’s batsmen set the tone on the first two days of this four-day clash, declaring on 537/8 before Ireland limped through their two innings in reply.

Resuming their first innings on 170/7 today, John Anderson showed there was some fight in the tail as he ground his way to 61 runs, before the Irish were eventually bowled out for 261.

Ireland’s second innings proved to be nothing short of a disaster, Mohammed Nabi taking six wickets for 40 runs as Bracewell’s side were skittled for 104.

Rashid Khan once again caused Ireland huge problems with his wrist spin, taking another three wickets to add to his six from the first innings. Ireland lasted just 40 overs in the with no one passing 15 runs.

Ireland’s next match in the competition is against the Netherlands at home in August before they finish with a clash against Scotland in the UAE.

They will now have to rely on results elsewhere, hoping Hong Kong or UAE can do them a favour, if they are to have any hope of retaining their title and going forward to the Test Challenge.

Before then they switch to white-ball cricket, facing England in two ODIs at Bristol and Lord’s in May.

ICC Intercontinental Cup, Greater Noida, Day 3, close

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

Ireland 261 (91.4 overs; A Balbirnie 62, J Anderson 61, E Joyce 45, Rashid Khan 5-99, Zahir Khan 2-35, Mohammed Nabi 2-45) and 104 (Mohammed Nabi 6-40, Rashid Khan 3-44).

Afghanistan (20 pts) beat Ireland (0 pts) by an innings and 172 runs.

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Alan Waldron

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