After numerous Intercontinental Cup clashes, matches at qualifiers, T20Is and ODIs, cricket’s latest Full Members Afghanistan and Ireland geared up for real deal: Tests. For the record, this is Afghanistan’s home Test at their adopted city of Dehradun in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand.
William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain, called correctly as they elected to bat first in their second-ever Test. Nine months ago, Ireland ran Pakistan close on Test debut before losing at home in Malahide. Coming in now with a little more experience and conditioning, they’ll look to overcome a slightly vulnerable Afghanistan side, who were handed a pounding on their Test debut in June against India.
Ireland squared the ODIs 2-2 after conceding early ground to Afghanistan, and will have momentum on their side. That said, they’ll still need their experienced cricketers to pull them against strong five-man attack that boasts of two fast bowlers and three spinners in Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Waqar Salamkhail.
Ireland left out their premier fast bowler Boyd Rankin, with George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, Stuart Poynter, the wicketkeeper, James Cameron-Dow, James McCollum and Andy McBrine handed their maiden Test caps. Afghanistan also had three caps: spinner Salamkhail, Ikram Ali Khil, who will keep wickets, and Ihsanullah Janat, the top order batsman. Ikram’s inclusion will allow Mohammad Shahzad to play as a pure batsman.
Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (capt.), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Alikhail, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Wafadar Momand, Yamin Ahmadzai, Waqar Salamkhail
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Andy Balbirnie, James Cameron-Dow, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, James Mccollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Stuart Poynter (wk), Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.