In the end, history was secured with minimum fuss. Afghanistan surged to their maiden Test victory by seven wickets, with Rahmat Shah and Ishanullah Janat both scoring half-centuries in Dehradun on 18 March. Shah scored a 122-ball 76, and Janat an unbeaten 129-ball 65* as Afghanistan notched up the 147-run target on the fourth morning within a session. It was their first every Test victory, in just their second Test.
Ireland would have begun the day hoping to take a couple of early wickets, and then capitalise on the resultant pressure to stifle the hosts. Unfortunately for the visitors, Afghanistan batsmen were well-prepared to handle all that. Shah hit consecutive fours in just the second over of the day off Tim Murtagh, and that set the tone for the innings.
Janat, meanwhile, was lucky to be dropped by Stuart Thompson the next over, when he was on just 18. The Afghanistan duo took it easy for the next couple of overs, and thereafter, once they got a hang of things, they started going for the fence.
Shah did most of the attacking, but boundaries flowed from both willows, and it didn’t take long for one of them to score a half-century – Shah was the first to it, getting to the mark with a sweep for four off George Dockrell.
Seeing Shah reach the mark sparked a hunger in Janat as well, and he just let loose in an Andy McBrine over – there were two fours sandwiched by a six, and he claimed 14 runs off the over. The partnership crossed 100, and soon, Janat reached his own half-century. Afghanistan were just 32 runs away from victory.
They decided not to hurry for those runs, knowing they had all the time in the world. They decided to savour it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite perfect – Afghanistan lost two wickets when they needed just three runs to win.
Shah looked to go big and finish it off, but was out of shape and stumped. Mohammad Nabi was then run-out, looking for a second run that wasn’t there. But for Ireland, it was all too little too late. Hashmatullah Shahidi found the fence of James Cameron-Dow, and history was secured.