Asghar Stanikzai is unbeaten at 110    Getty Images
Asghar Stanikzai is unbeaten at 110 Getty Images

Putting up 357 for 6 on Day One, Afghanistan are on top of the game against Ireland in the four-day match of ICC Intercontinental Cup. The top and middle order played well as a cohesive unit and that earned them a big score on the board at the end of day, with 4 wickets still in hand. At the crease is Asghar Stanikzai, who must be confident after getting to his century, and will have ample rest overnight to comeback fresh and add more worries to the Irish camp on Wednesday.

Afghanistan unhesitatingly chose to bat after winning the toss. They batted sensibly applied themselves, with three players scoring in excess of 70 runs on Day One itself and two partnerships in excess of 100 runs. The batting had backup after every dismissal, ensuring the flow of runs was not affected. Mohammad Shahzad showed maturity, as he played a different knock to his usual hard-hitting tendency. He aimed for a longer knock, as Afghanistan had already lost opener Shabir Noori for 15. Rahmat Shah (46), Nasir Jamal (73) and, of course, Asghar Stanikzai (110*) added crucial runs.

Challenge for Ireland on Day Two will be to remove the in-form Stanikzai as early as possible. With Nabi already dismissed, Afghanistan tail will find it hard to find a proper batsman who can hold the innings together. Ireland have already given away too many runs to the batting heavy Afghanistan and, with every run added on Wednesday, the target will become harder to achieve for Ireland.

Spinners were effective on Day One itself. It means there will be more assistance for them as the game proceeds. Afghanistan, who are good players of spin, will have the advantage on that front. If they manage to take the total past 450, they can call it safe. For Afghanistan now, the aim will surely be to bat for as long as possible. Problems will increase for Ireland, who are not as good to face spin as Afghanistan, as the deteriorating pitch will make it harder for the batsmen to survive.

Teams:

Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad, Shabir Noori, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Nasir Jamal, Rashid Khan, Zahir Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Afsar Zazai

Ireland: William Porterfield, Niall O Brien, Ed Joyce, Andy Balbirnie, John Anderson, Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson, Andy McBrine, George Dockrell, Tim Murtagh, Peter Chase