A maiden 10-wicket haul by John Mooney inspired Ireland to beat Afghanistan by 122 runs to regain the ICC Intercontinental Cup and with it become the first side to win three ICC events of three different formats in a season.
Mooney followed up his five for 45 in the first innings with five for 36 as defending champion Afghanistan was bowled out for 224 runs after resuming the penultimate day’s play in the five-day final at ICC Academy No.1 in Dubai at 136 for five.
For his match figures of 33.5-10-81-10, 31-year-old Mooney was adjudged the man of the match.
This is the fourth time Ireland has won the ICC Intercontinental Cup since its inception in 2004. It had previously won the premier competition for sides below the Full Members in 2005, 2006-07 and 2007-08.
Friday’s result also meant Ireland has become ICC’s first Member to win three ICC events of three different formats in a season. William Porterfield’s side had earlier won the 50-over Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) in July and then retained the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier title in the UAE in November.
A delighted Porterfield said: “It is a fantastic feeling. We had obviously set out to do that. We won the 50-over stuff with a couple of games to go. I think we only lost one game throughout that campaign which was great for ourselves. Coming here (in UAE) last month and beating Afghanistan in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier final was great.
“I think it is all because of the hard work we put in. We are a pretty hard working bunch any time we come away on tour. Over the last four or five years, we have become a lot more professional outfit both on and off the pitch. I think that has helped us massively with our cricket.”
The final also brought an end to an impressive career of Trent Johnston despite him being unable to take the field on Friday due to an injury. The 39-year-old, who was born in Wollongong, Australia, played 67 ODIs, 33 first-class and 30 T20I matches in a career that started in 1998-99 in Australia before he moved to Ireland.
Johnston captained Ireland to ICC Intercontinental Cup titles in 2005 and 2006-2007 and also led his side in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 where he hit the winning runs against Pakistan in Kingston, Jamaica, to complete one of the major upsets in the history of the tournament. Ireland also defeated Bangladesh by 74 runs during the Super Eight stage in the same tournament at Bridgetown, Barbados.
Porterfield paid tribute to Johnston, who is also a member of the ICC Cricket Committee. “A big part of us over the last 10 years has been Trent Johnston. He has been a massive figure since a lot of this team started playing.
“Obviously I made my debut under Trent. I have played some 160-170 times with him. There are a lot of young lads who have learnt a lot from him. There are a lot of lads now chomping at the bit to take his place.
“This was the perfect send-off for Trent. He is a traditionalist of the game, he loves this format. In the last 24 hours he has not been keeping well. He would have loved to have been out there taking those wickets. There would have been no one more pleased than him to see some of the lads step up and take the wickets. That’s the kind of bloke Trent is, he would have been pleased to see John (Mooney) go out and do that.
“That’s the fitting way for Trent to sign off and pick up that trophy.”
On Friday morning, Afghanistan resumed its second innings at the overnight score of 136 for five and required another 211 runs to retain the title.
Rahmat Shah and captain Mohammad Nabi batted with care and caution as they took the score to 189 for five at lunch without being separated. With Johnston injured and the pitch not assisting the bowlers too much, it looked that Afghanistan may be able to make a match out of it.
However, things changed after lunch when Ireland decided to take the second new ball in the 82nd over at the score of 199 for five. Porterfield’s master stroke did the trick when Mooney ran through Afghanistan’s lower order as the defending champion lost its last five wickets for 25 runs in just under 14 overs with Rahmat Shah left stranded at 86.
Max Sorensen provided Ireland the crucial breakthrough off the eighth ball, after the second new ball was taken, when he ended a fighting 114 runs sixth wicket partnership between Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat. Sorensen trapped Nabi (49: 174b, 7×4) leg-before.
Mooney then got into the action when he first disturbed the furniture behind Samiullah Shenwari (4), then pinned Mirwais Ashraf (0) in front of the stumps, and finally had Dawlat Zadran and Izatullah Dawlatzai caught by Ed Joyce in the third slip to end Afghanistan’s resistance and complete a comfortable and memorable Ireland victory.
Rahmat Shah ended up on the losing side but the youngster showed a lot of promise and courage, raising only his second career half-century off 158 balls with nine fours.
The 20-year-old Rahmat, who was playing in only his fourth first-class match, followed up his five wickets in the match and 20 runs in the first innings as he ended with a watchful but attractive 86 not out in which he hit 12 fours.
Scores in brief:
Ireland 187 all out, 61 overs (John Anderson 55; John Mooney 33; Dawlat Zadran 4-44, Rahmat Shah 3-36, Samiullah Shenwari 2-26) and 341 all out, 95.1 overs (Niall O’Brien 87, Ed Joyce 78, Kevin O’Brien 47, Andrew White 39, William Porterfield 34, Trent Johnston 31; Mohammad Nabi 4-39, Rahmat Shah 2-58, Mirwais Ashraf 2-63, Dawlat Zadran 2-101