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Dehradun: Leg spinner Rashid Khan grabbed 5-82 before Ireland put up a late show of resistance to set Afghanistan a tricky target of 147 runs in the one-off test on Sunday.
On a wearing wicket, Ireland dismissed struggling opener Mohammad Shahzad (2) as Afghanistan went to stumps on the fourth day at 29-1.
Afghanistan requires another 118 runs to win on the last day to record their maiden test win. Ihsanullah Janat was unbeaten on 16 and Rahmat Shah was not out on 11.
Earlier, James Cameron-Dow (32) and Tim Murtagh (27) made an aggressive 58 runs off 63 balls for the last wicket before Ireland was bowled out for 288 midway into the last session.
Murtagh had also saved the visitors from total humiliation in the first innings when he featured in an 87-run 10th wicket partnership with George Dockrell as Ireland scored 172 runs.
Rashid, nursing an injury to his spinning finger going into the test match, struggled in a first session that was dominated by a century-stand between Andy Bilbirnie (82) and James McCollom (39).
But Rashid finally found his rhthym after lunch when Ireland lost wickets in quick order'.
Both Ireland batsmen were dismissed in successive overs after they threatened to wipe out the first innings deficit of 142 runs and put Afghanistan under pressure.
Waqar Salamkheil (2-66) broke the 104-run partnership when Balbirnie was smartly caught behind and McCollum was trapped leg before wicket by Rashid.
Balbirnie, who scored a century in the drawn ODI series against Afghanistan, hit 11 fours and faced 149 balls before missing out on his debut test hundred.
Kevin O'Brien (58) and Dockrell (25) then put on another half-century stand before Rashid returned in the last session and claimed three wickets in three overs that reduced Ireland to 230-9 — a lead of 88 runs.
Rashid had O'Brien and Dockrell trapped leg before wicket and then Andy McBrine was smartly stumped by Imran Ali Khil.
However, Cameron-Dow, who hit five fours, and Murtagh smashed four boundaries as both batsmen frustrated Afghanistan's hopes of curtailing the target.
Fast bowler Yamim Ahmadzai (3-52) finally wrapped up the innings when Murtagh was caught out in the deep while going for an extravagant pull shot.
Both teams are competing in only their second test match since gaining test status in 2017. Last year, Afghanistan lost its debut test against India, and Ireland was beaten by Pakistan in its inaugural test.
With inputs from AP