ANI Photo | “You ask this whole group how special this is!”: Irish skipper Balbirnie after maiden Test win

After leading Ireland to their maiden Test win, skipper Andrew Balbirnie was ecstatic, saying he was glad to “get the monkey off the back”.
Speaking to media persons at the post-match press conference, the Irish skipper said the historic win over Afghanistan in the one-off Test at Abu Dhabi will inspire his side to mark further forward strides in the game’s longest and most challenging format.
Riding on Balbirnie’s 58* and Lorcan Tucker’s run-a-ball 27*, Ireland recovered from an initial slump to overhaul the modest victory target of 111.
The cricket-mad country, which played its maiden Test against Pakistan in 2018, erupted in celebrations as the team scripted its first win in the red-ball format.
“I can’t [believe this win]. It’s right up there. You ask this whole group how special this is! A lot of our guys didn’t get to play Test cricket. Hopefully, people back home want to be Test cricketers,” Balbirnie said after the six-wicket victory over Afghanistan.
“We knew it would be attritional stuff… it’s just an all-round performance. We’re absolutely excited. You have to look at how busy the schedule is. There’s a lot of cricket in the world that is going on. We’ve created results, and created history. The monkey is off the back. Very special to do that,” the Irish skipper added.
Ireland were tottering at 13/3 and there were a few flutters in the dressing room when skipper Balbirnie walked in to front up against a spirited Afghan attack.
In the able company of middle-order batsman Lorcan Tucker, Blabirnie mixed caution with controlled aggression to settle the nerves in the Irish camp and eventually take his team to a historic win.
Reflecting on that phase of the game when Ireland were rocked early in their chase of 111, skipper Balbirnie said, “We were one partnership away. Obviously, there were a bit of nerves, we were chasing our first win.”
The difference between the two sides in the one-off Test was the polished and clinical bowling effort, especially by the pacers, on the opening day. Mark Adair bagged a five-wicket haul, helping the Irishmen skittle the Afghans out for 155.
In the second innings, the pace duo of Adair and Barry McCarthy combined again to keep the Afghans from coming back into the contest.
“Mark was disciplined. To take 20 wickets in a Test is an achievement, and to do that second time is very special,” Balbirnie added.
After coming out tops in the one-off Test, Ireland will now square off with the Afghans in a three-match ODI series that will kick off on March 7.
The 50-over series will be followed by a three-match T20I series, beginning on March 15. (ANI)

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