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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Ihsanullah century puts Afghanistan in control on Day 1 of Intercontinental Cup match with UAE

The opener, who turns 20 next month, hit a career best 124 as Afghanistan ended the opening day of their four-day match in Abu Dhabi on 321-3

Afghanistan batsman Ihsanullah Janat scored his maiden first class century on Day 1 of their four-day Intercontinental Cup game against UAE at Zayed Cricket Stadium. Christopher Pike / The National
Afghanistan batsman Ihsanullah Janat scored his maiden first class century on Day 1 of their four-day Intercontinental Cup game against UAE at Zayed Cricket Stadium. Christopher Pike / The National

Ihsanullah Janat is hoping his maiden First Class century will pave the way for Afghanistan to secure victory over the UAE and win the Intercontinental Cup for a second time.

The opener, who turns 20 next month, hit a career best 124 as Afghanistan ended the opening day of their four-day match at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on 321-3.

“I’m very happy with my effort but more important is if the milestone I reached today will help us win this game,” said Ihsanullah, who reached his mark off 242 balls with 13 fours and a six over the deep square leg.

“If we win this game we win the I-Cup. That’s what matters most. I hope my team can build on the opening day’s play.

“We still haven’t spoken about what we would do tomorrow but my feeling is that a first inning total of 550-plus will put us in a strong position to push for a win.

“We have the most experienced batsman [captain Asghar Stanikzai is 67 not out] at the crease and a few more who can score lots of runs for us down the order.”

Afghanistan head the table by 12 points over Ireland. Victory over the UAE will ensure them their second I-Cup title and a perfect finish before they begin to fully embark on Test cricket.

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Rohan Mustafa, the UAE captain, credited the Afghanistan batsmen after he sent them in to bat first in an overcast morning.

“We thought we’ll get swing and bounce from the pitch and the overcast conditions in the morning but it didn’t work out that way we expected it to be,” he said.

“Anyway, we can’t take the credit away from the Afghanistan batsmen. Two of them went on to score centuries and the skipper is still at the crease. They outplayed us in the first day.

“What we will try when we return tomorrow is to restrict them to around 400 and then take them on from there.”

The UAE had some early success when Javed Ahmadi (6) top edged a Mohammed Naveed delivery to Amjad Javed at long leg when the score was 16 in the seventh over.

Ihsanullah, joined by Rahmat Shah, took charge from there onwards to set the platform with a 197-run stand for the second wicket.

The partnership ended soon after tea when Rahmat, who hit a dozen fours and faced 191 deliveries for his 103, was caught by Chirag Suri at point off left-arm spinner Ahmed Raza.

Stanikzai and Ihsanullah added 83 before the latter fell to a brilliant one-handed return catch by Naveed in his third over with the second new ball.

In the three other three I-Cup games played across the Emirates, Scotland were 37 for no loss after bundling out Ireland for 251 in Dubai.

Roelof van der Merwe (157 not out) and Max O’Dowd (109 not out) hit centuries and put on 253 without being separated for the sixth wicket for the Netherlands to end Day 1 on 400-5 also in Dubai.

At the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Hong Kong were 50-2 after bowling out Papua New Guinea for 237.

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