Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien steer Ireland into commanding position

Lead stretched to 164 over Afghanistan after unbeaten century stand

John Mooney picked up his first five-wicket haul for Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup Final against Afghanistan  at the ICC Global Academy in Dubai. Photograph: Barry Chambers/Inpho

John Mooney picked up his first five-wicket haul for Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup Final against Afghanistan at the ICC Global Academy in Dubai. Photograph: Barry Chambers/Inpho

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 13:42

An unbeaten third-wicket stand of 106 between Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien put Ireland in full control of their Intercontinental Cup Final against Afghanistan in Dubai at the end of day two on Wednesday.

Backing up a great show by the bowlers, who dismissed Afghanistan for 182 to secure a five-run lead at the end of the first innings, Ireland closed on 159 for two to push that advantage out to 164.

Ireland lost openers Paul Stirling and skipper William Porterfield – who made a quickfire 34 off 32 balls – in the first 10 overs, but Joyce (74 not out) and O’Brien (40 not out) were untroubled in the final session.

If they were the stars with the bat, then John Mooney took the honours early in the day as he claimed his his first international five-wicket haul to drag Ireland back into the match.

Spinner George Dockrell ended up with three wickets and Trent Johnston earned some late reward for some hard graft with two as Afghanistan were bowled out for 182.

North County all-rounder Mooney had taken three wickets in the final session of the first day as the Afghans closed on 81 for three in their first innings after Ireland had struggled in making 187 after being put into bat.

Afghanistan added 35 to their overnight score before Mooney struck with his first delivery of the morning, with Kevin O’Brien holding on to a catch at second slip to remove Rehmat Shah after he had made 20.

Dockrell found the edge Asghar Stanikzai’s bat through to wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien before Mooney claimed his first five-wicket haul when Samiullah Shenwari edge to third slip where Andrew White took a second catch of the innings.

That left Afghanistan on 133 for six, but a patient stand of 42 in 18 overs between Mohammad Nabi and Merwais Ashraf saw the defending champions close in on Ireland’s first-innings total.

They made it to 156 for six at lunch and were within 10 runs of Ireland when Johnston was then rewarded for some brilliant seam bowling as Ashraf edged through to Niall O’Brien.

O’Brien then stumped Afghan counterpart Afsar Zazai off the bowling of Dockrell and although Kevin O’Brien missed a tough chance at slip to remove Nabi off Johnston, the Afghan captain fell to the same bowler without adding to his score when he top edged to Ed Joyce at third man.

Dockrell wrapped up the innings in the next over, with Niall O’Brien stumping Dawlat Zadran to give him five dismissals in the innings.

INTERCONTINENTAL CUP FINAL

(at ICC Global Academy, Dubai): Day 2 of 5, score at stumps: Ireland 187 (61 ovs) (J Anderson 55, J Mooney 33; D Zadran 4-44, R Shah 3-36, S Shenwari 2-26) & 159-2 (46 ovs) (E Joyce 74no, N O’Brien 40no, W Porterfield 34) lead Afghanistan 182 (77.5 ovs) (M Nabi 42, A Stanikzai 41, S Noori 29, R Shah 20; J Mooney 5-45, G Dockrell 3-52, T Johnston 2-50) by 164 runs.

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