John Mooney took three wickets late on the first day to bring Ireland back into contention in their InterContinental Cup clash with Afghanistan in Dubai after Phil Simmons’ side had been dismissed for 187.
His three victims all fell to superb catches, with Niall O'Brien, standing in for the unwell Gary Wilson, getting the breakthrough with a salmon-like leap down the leg-side to remove Nowroz Mangal for 13.
If anything, O'Brien's effort was surpassed by Andrew White, who clung on to a sharp chance at third slip to remove top scorer Shabir Noori who had reached 29.
Mooney himself held a sharp return effort to dismiss the dangerous and combative Mohammed Shehzad for 16 and at 58 for 3, Ireland were jubilant.
Indeed, it could have been even better for the Irish as Shah was dropped off a difficult chance by Ed Joyce off the bowling of George Dockrell just before bad light forced the players off the field five overs early with Afghanistan on 81 for 3.
Earlier in the day a combination of poor shot selection and ring rustiness saw Ireland's top order collapse after being inserted by Afghanistan.
Skipper William Porterfield (1) was well caught by his counterpart Mohammed Nabi at second slip, while Paul Stirling (17) and Ed Joyce (11) were both caught behind playing at balls they perhaps should have left well alone.
Niall O'Brien (7) played on to the impressive Dawlat Zadran (4-44), and Andrew White, playing a record equalling 226th match for Ireland, made 11 before being trapped lbw by Rehmat Shah (3-36).
Kevin O'Brien made a breezy 18 before edging leg spinner Samiullah Shenwari behind just after lunch to leave Ireland in deep trouble at 106 for 6.
John Anderson and John Mooney then set about rebuilding the Irish innings, adding 54 for the 7th wicket in the only partnership of real substance.
Anderson batted with real application, top scoring with 55 from 111 balls (8 fours) and at 160 for 6, the Irish looked set for a total in excess of 200.
However Anderson and Mooney (33) fell in quick succession, and there was no fairytale innings for Trent Johnston - in his last game for Ireland - who was bowled by Shah without scoring.
George Dockrell (14 not out) and Max Sorensen (13) added what could prove to be a valuable 23 for the last wicket, taking the total to 187 before Sorensen fell victim to Shenwari.
The game is delicately poised, with Afghanistan holding a slight advantage. However early wickets could change that picture when play resumes tomorrow at 6am (Irish time). Once again there will be live video streaming of the day’s play via the ICC’s website and YouTube channel.