A century opening stand put Ireland in a strong position against Afghanistan on the opening day of the four-day first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 match in Dambulla on Thursday.
Electing to bat first, the defending champion finished the day at 324-7 after captain William Porterfield and Gary Wilson put on 120 runs for the first wicket. But a late rally brought Afghanistan back into the game.
Wilson was the first batsman to be dismissed when he fell to Mohammad Nabi after scoring a sedate 54. His 114-minute innings included nine fours.
Porterfield put on 50 runs for the second wicket with Alex Cusack (39) before he become one of the two victims of fast bowler Hameed Hasan. Porterfield faced 134 balls during his 175-minute batting and his innings included seven fours and two sixes.
Ireland suffered a mini-collapse when it slumped from 170-1 to 203-4 which soon became 231-5 before Niall O'Brien and Andrew White got together in a rescue act and put their side back on track with a 85-run sixth-wicket stand.
O'Brien departed after scoring 66, his 15th half-century in first-class cricket, while White contributed 43 that came off 89 balls and included six fours. O'Brien's innings included nine fours from 119 balls.
When stumps were drawn for the opening day, John Mooney (five) and Trent Johnston (nought) were at the crease.
For Afghanistan, wrist spinner Samiullah Shenwari was the pick of bowlers with 3-55 while Hameed bagged 2-77.
Scores in brief:
Ireland 324-7, 98 overs (William Porterfield 78, Gary Wilson 53, Niall O'Brien 66, Andrew White 43, Alex Cusack 39; Samiullah Shenwari 3-55, Hameed Hasan 2-77)v Afghanistan
Umpires ? TH Wijewardena and Manmore Martinez
Live scoreboard is available at http://www.icc-cricket.com/match_zone/scorecard.php?matchId=32256
ICC INTERCONTINENTAL CUP
? Kenya v Scotland, Kenya
Feb ? Afghanistan v Canada, UAE
? Kenya v Netherlands, Nairobi
? Netherlands v Scotland, Netherlands
? Scotland v Afghanistan, Scotland
? Ireland v Netherlands, Ireland
? Canada v Zimbabwe XI, Canada
? Canada v Ireland, Canada
? Netherlands v Zimbabwe XI, Netherlands
? Kenya v Afghanistan, Kenya
? Zimbabwe XI v Ireland, Africa
? Zimbabwe XI v Scotland, Africa
? FINAL (five days), UAE
ICC INTERCONTINENTAL SHIELD
? UAE v Uganda, UAE
? Namibia v Bermuda, Namibia
? Bermuda v UAE, Bermuda
? Uganda v Namibia, Uganda
? FINAL, UAE
The exact venues for these fixtures have not yet been finalised.
The latest points table for the tournament so far can be found at http://www.icc-cricket.com/events_and_awards/intercontinental_cup/index.php
There will be a total of US$250,000 in prize money for the Associate and Affiliate teams taking part in the ICC Intercontinental Cup with US$100,000 for the winners and US$40,000 for the runners-up.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event then evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.
This year's format include seven teams (Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland and Zimbabwe XI), while the new competition, the ICC Intercontinental Shield, involves the four teams below that, namely Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in all three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event and Namibia in 2007-08.
Go to http://www.icc-cricket.com/events_and_awards/intercontinental_cup/index.php
to find out more.