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International Cricket

The ‘Lambeth Lara’ spares Ireland’s blushes

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read
Image credit – Cricket Ireland

A fifty from No.11 batsman Tim Murtagh helped Ireland recover from 85-9 to 172 all out on day one of their first Test against Afghanistan.

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Murtagh, the Middlesex seamer, combined with bowling all-rounder George Dockrell for a last-wicket stand of 87 to salvage the Irish innings. Dockrell was dismissed for 39 to end the partnership, with Murtagh left unbeaten on 54. In reply, Afghanistan finished the day 90-2, with James Cameron-Dow removing Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah to collect his first two Test wickets.

The match is a historic one for both sides – this is the first time they are facing each other in the Test arena. Both sides made their Test bows last year – Ireland faced Pakistan in May, while Afghanistan took on India in June.

In top-scoring for his side, Murtagh hit the second-highest individual Test score for Ireland, and also became the first Ireland player to hit a six in the format.

Speaking after the day’s play, he revealed that his first thoughts when coming out to bat were to see his side to the 100-run mark, despite them being well placed at 37-0 at one stage.

“The day started pretty well with us 30-0 off not that many overs, and then we obviously lost our way in the middle of that [opening] session and I had to do a repair job with Dockers – which we did to some extent. It’s obviously not the first innings score we would have liked but it’s something we can hopefully work on tomorrow.

“I was pretty disappointed when George got out and left me stranded – I was on for a hundred there! It was nice to contribute with the bat, it’s been a while since I got many runs.”

Murtagh, known in some quarters as the ‘Lambeth Lara’, acknowledged that while he was happy to contribute with the bat, Ireland’s total was short of what they were hoping for having won the toss and chosen to bat.

“It was different conditions to what the Lambeth Lara is usually used to but it was challenging and good fun.

“Tomorrow morning is going to be big. We were looking at maybe 250-300 hopefully after winning a good toss on that wicket so we’re going to have to scrap and work really hard in the morning to reduce them to as low a first-innings total as we can.

“We’re obviously behind the eight ball but we’ve shown a bit of fighting spirit – we’re obviously going to have to show some more tomorrow.”

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