The Afghanistan vs Ireland one-off Test match at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium witnessed plenty of records and history. Afghanistan notched up their maiden win in Tests with Rahmat Shah scoring 98 and 76 while Rashid Khan became the first Afghanistan bowler to take a five-wicket haul in Tests. Although Rahmat stole the show with a brilliant display, it was actually a No.11 that stole the show not because of his bowling but because of his batting. Tim Murtagh, who plays for English County Middlesex, created a unique slice of history in Dehradun during the course of the match as he helped Ireland fightback twice.
Murtagh came in when Afghanistan had reduced Ireland to 85/9 but Murtagh shared a brilliant 87-run stand with George Dockrell for the final wicket as they reached 172. Murtagh’s contribution was 54. Afghanistan took a lead of 142 and Ireland were once again in trouble but once again Murtagh shared a partnership of 58 with James Cameron-Dow as he smashed 27 to help Ireland reach 288.His aggregate of 81 runs in the Test is the joint third-best by a No.11, behind Ashton Agar's 98, Tino Best's 95 and James Anderson's 81 which he achieved against India in Trent Bridge in 2014.
The left-hander’s contribution of 54 and 27 in both the innings resulted in a record which has never been achieved by a No.11 in the history of Tests. Murtagh became the first No.11 ever to hit 25+ scores in both innings of a Test. Arthur Mailey of Australia hit 21 and 46 in the Sydney Test against England in 1924 which were the best but Murtagh emulated the feat. The 37-year-old became the 19th No.11 to smash a fifty in that position in Tests. Agar of Australia holds the record for the highest individual score with 98 which he achieved in the Trent Bridge Test against England in 2013.
Murtagh’s effort went in vain as Afghanistan chased down the target of 147 with seven wickets to spare as Asghar Afghan’s side registered their first Test win in just their second game and in their second year since they were promoted to Test status in 2018. However, the efforts of Murtagh stole the show in what was a historic occasion in every sense.
Ireland’s next Test could be against England in July at Lord’s, which will also be a historic match.