Preview: Afghanistan-Ireland lock horns tomorrow in one-off Test
After hosting the T20 series and ODI series, Afghanistan are now going to host their first home Test match against Ireland scheduled to be held in Dehradun on March 15.
Both teams have taken similar routes to Test status. It led to both teams making their respective Test debuts, within a month of each other last summer– Ireland against Pakistan at home, and Afghanistan against the world’s No. 1 Test team India in Bengaluru.
Ireland gave Pakistan a tough fight in the second innings, after being asked to follow on, and dismissed half the Pakistan line-up in a chase of 160. While Afghanistan were walloped by India, getting bowled out twice in a single day to lose by an innings and 262 runs.
However, Afghans skipper Asghar Afghan believed that the team will aim to play in tomorrow’s Test match with full strength.
"It is a moment of pride that Afghanistan hosts its first Test match and it carries a lot of meaning for us. Although we lost our inaugural Test match to India last year we will aim to play in the upcoming Test match with full strength," said Asghar Afghan.
There are a lot of signs that suggest that this Test could have a decisive result. Dehradun has never hosted a Test, but if the ODIs are anything to go by, the track could be slow and low and assist the spinners. Weather is forecast to be clear on all five days. The Dehradun weather, for starters, is forecast to be clear on all five days. And if the limited-overs leg was any indication, then spinners will likely have a big part to play in the Test.
Drawn Tests on turning tracks in the subcontinent have become rare these days, and if it turns out to be a traditional sub-continental track, then this will end up becoming a contest between the spinners on both sides.
"It will be completely different conditions [in the Test match] - our first Test match against Pakistan was a home game in Malahide in May whereas we are in Dehradun here in India in March. We will see how the pitch is in the next couple of days and expect it not to be very different," said Iris skipper William Porterfield.
Also likely to play a big part in determining the result is the toss. In Tests played in India since the start of 2017, the team winning the toss has lost only three out of 11 matches.
Afghanistan have included adding left-arm wrist-spinner Zahir Khan and left-arm medium pacer Sayed Shirzad to their squad. Khan will join Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, the two main spinners, and left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf and leg-spinning all-rounder Rahmat Shah. Shirzad will bolster a thin fast-bowling pack, featuring Yamin Ahmadzai, Waqar Salamkheil and Wafadar Momand.
While George Dockrell and Simi Singh, with some support from Paul Stirling, are expected to be Ireland's spin options with the onus of scoring runs on the likes of William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie and O'Brien. Though Ireland lost the match, Kevin O'Brien was named Player of the Match for his century in Ireland's debut Test Though Ireland lost the match, Kevin O'Brien was named Player of the Match for his century in Ireland's debut Test
Afghanistan squad: Asghar Afghan (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Ihsanullah Janat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Alikhail, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Sharafudin Ashraf, Waqar Salamkhail, Zahir Khan, Sayed Shirzad
Ireland squad: William Porterfield (c), Andrew Balbirnie, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Stuart Poynter (wk), Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker
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