Opener Mohammad Shehzad was unbeaten on 74 and Afghanistan just 46 runs away from taking the first-innings lead against Namibia at stumps on day one of the four-day first-class ICC Inter-Continental Cup at the Greater Noida Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Electing to bat first, Namibia could only manage 172 runs in its first innings, thanks mainly to a stubborn 46 in 123 balls by Pikky Ya France. Off-spinner Mohammad Nabi snared five wickets for just 25 runs to be Afghanistan’s most successful bowler while Zahir Khan took three wickets.

Afghanistan coach Inzamam-ul-Haq had said on the eve of the game that he expected the pitch to help slow bowlers, but also wanted the batsmen to play their strokes freely. Both his wishes came true as Afghanistan, currently fifth in the table with 21 points from two outings — a win and a draw — looks to leapfrog into third spot with a win here.

The venue has been designated as Afghanistan’s home ground following an MoU signed between the BCCI and the Afghan cricket board last year. This is the final match of the third round of the Intercontinental Cup, with the winner getting to play the ICC Test Challenge against the 10th-ranked Test side on home and away basis in 2018.

Ireland currently is on top of the table with 60 points from three wins.

The scores: Namibia 172 in 62.1 overs (Pikky Ya France 46, Mohammad Nabi five for 25, Zahir Khan three for 31) vs Afghanistan 126 for one in 33 overs (Mohammad Shahzad batting 74).