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Ireland collapse to a shock defeat against Afghanistan

Dawlat Ahmadzai
Dawlat Ahmadzai took five Irish wickets on Sunday

Holders Ireland suffered a shock Intercontinental Cup defeat against Afghanistan after a stunning batting collapse on the final day in Dambulla.

After starting on 39-0, 30 runs adrift, the Irish were 202 all-out and Afghanistan reached the 134 target for the loss of only three wickets.

Dawlat Ahmadzai grabbed five wickets and Mohammad Nabi notched four as the Irish batting line-up crumbled.

Only Trent Johnston (63 not out) resisted on a dismal day for the Irish.

Ireland's hopes of a fourth straight Intercontinental Cup triumph now look remote after the country's first defeat in the competition in 19 matches.

Fast bowler Ahmadzai's figures were a career-best 5-52.

Afghanistan, after a slow start, batted aggressively to achieve victory in the 32nd over.

Opener Noor Ali scored his second half-century of the match when he fell after scoring 57 that included six fours and a six.

When Noor departed, Afghanistan needed 34 runs from a minimum of nine overs and Mohammad Shahzad's unbeaten 42 helped steer them past the target.

Dawlat ripped through Ireland's top order to dismiss William Porterfield (14), Gary Wilson (27), Alex Cusack (4), John Mooney (18) and Gary Kidd (0).

Ireland captain William Porterfield
William Porterfield's side suffered a shock defeat

Nabi's victims were Andre Botha (27), Kevin O'Brien (3), Andrew White (4) and last-man Peter Connell (10).

Nabi's brilliant spell broke the back of Ireland's middle-order as the holders crashed from 91-3 to 101-7.

Ireland were further 143-9 before former captain Johnston's late rally, as he and Connell added 59 for the final wicket.

Afghanistan earned a maximum of 20 points from the match which has put them on top of the table with 43 points.

They moved 14 ahead of second-placed Scotland who take on Kenya in Nairobi from Monday.

Ireland stay in sixth place on 12 points from three matches and in serious danger of missing out on the final of the tournament to be played in November in the United Arab Emirates.

The Irish team's last defeat in the competition came August 2004 when they lost to Scotland by eight wickets.

The two sides will remain in Sri Lanka and will be also joined by Canada as part of their preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers.

That is being staged from 9 to 13 February in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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see also
Irish shade day one in cup clash
21 Jan 10 |  Ireland
Irish prepare for tougher tests
14 Jan 10 |  Cricket
Full-time contracts for Irish six
13 Jan 10 |  Cricket
Batsman Bray quits Ireland duty
12 Jan 10 |  Cricket
Kidd selected in Ireland squad
06 Jan 10 |  Ireland
Ireland opt out of county cricket
28 Sep 09 |  Ireland

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