Mooney delivers with the ball to keep Afghanistan within Irish sights in final

Ireland's John Mooney bowling

Ireland's John Mooney bowling

John Mooney took three wickets late on the first day to bring Ireland back into contention in their Inter Continental Cup clash with Afghanistan in Dubai after his side had been dismissed for 187.

His three victims all fell to superb catches.

Niall O’Brien, deputising for the unwell Gary Wilson, getting the breakthrough with a salmon like leap down the leg-side to remove Nowroz Mangal (13).

If anything, O’Brien’s effort was surpassed by Andrew White, who clung on to a sharp chance at third slip to remove top scorer Shabir Noori (29).

Mooney himself held a sharp return effort to dismiss the dangerous and combative Mohammed Shehzad (16) and at 58 for 3, Ireland were jubilant.

Indeed, it could have been even better for the Irish as Shah was dropped off a difficult chance by Ed Joyce off the bowling of George Dockrell just before bad light forced the players off the field five overs early with Afghanistan on 81 for 3.

Earlier in the day a combination of poor shot selection and ring rustiness saw Ireland’s top order collapse after being inserted by Afghanistan.

Skipper William Porterfield (1) was well caught by his counterpart Mohammed Nabi at second slip, while Paul Stirling (17) and Ed Joyce (11) were both caught behind playing at balls they perhaps should have left well alone.

Niall O’Brien (7) played on to the impressive Dawlat Zadran (4-44), and Andrew White, playing a record equalling 226th match for Ireland, made 11 before being trapped lbw by Rehmat Shah (3-36).

Kevin O’Brien made a breezy 18 before edging leg spinner Samiullah Shenwari behind just after lunch to leave Ireland in deep trouble at 106 for 6.

John Anderson and John Mooney then set about rebuilding the Irish innings, adding 54 for the 7th wicket in the only partnership of real substance.

Anderson batted with real application, top scoring with 55 from 111 balls (8 fours) and at 160 for 6, the Irish looked set for a total in excess of 200.

However Anderson and Mooney (33) fell in quick succession, and there was no fairytale innings for Trent Johnston - in his last game for Ireland - who was bowled by Shah without scoring.

George Dockrell (14*) and Max Sorensen (13) added what could prove to be a valuable 23 for the last wicket, taking the total to 187 before Sorensen fell victim to Shenwari.

The game is delicately poised, with Afghanistan holding a slight advantage. However early wickets could change that picture when play resumed this morning.

p The chance to earn a place at the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh will be the carrot dangling in front of a star-studded Ireland A team when they embark on a two-week tour of Sri Lanka in the New Year.

The squad will undergo a training camp under the watchful eyes of head coach Phil Simmons and his assistant Peter Johnston.

In addition there will be four games - two 50-overs and two T20s - against local opponents.

IRELAND A SQUAD FOR SRI LANKA TOUR (January 1-15): Andrew Poynter (captain) (Clontarf), Andrew Balbirnie (Pembroke/Middlesex), James Cameron-Dow (North Down), Chris Dougherty (CIYMS), Phil Eaglestone (Waringstown), Tyrone Kane (Merrion), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), Stuart Poynter (Durham), Eddie Richardson (North County), James Shannon (Instonians), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Barry McCarthy (Pembroke).




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