Monday 16 July 2018

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Ireland impress in maiden Test before Pakistan pair launch a counter-attack

Kevin O'Brien of Ireland during day two of the International Cricket Test match between Ireland and Pakistan at Malahide, in Co. Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Kevin O'Brien of Ireland during day two of the International Cricket Test match between Ireland and Pakistan at Malahide, in Co. Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Liam Blackburn

Ireland were left frustrated by Pakistan's seventh-wicket stand of 109 runs in the first day of play in their inaugural Test in Malahide.

After a washout on Friday, Ireland, the 11th nation to compete in the longest format, finally took to the field on Saturday and claimed their first two wickets in successive deliveries having won the toss.

Prior to tea the tourists had been reduced to 159 for six, but teenager Shadab Khan and Test debutant Faheem Ashraf then came to the crease and guided their team to 268 for six before bad light and rain brought an early end to proceedings.

Having lost a battle against the elements on Friday, Ireland's first ball as a Test nation took place with the sun shining and under clear skies.

Eleven months after being granted full membership and 25 years after being awarded associate status, the historic moment did prove memorable.

Pakistan opener Azhar Ali attempted to scoot through for a quick single and Imam-ul-Haq, the nephew of former international batsman Inzamam, collided with Niall O'Brien, forcing a delay while he was attended to.

Both Azhar and Imam would depart for single figures, the former to a back-of-a-length delivery from Boyd Rankin - the only Irish player with previous Test experience with England - before Imam was trapped in front by Tim Murtagh from the very next ball.

There would be no further breakthroughs until the second session, which proved productive for the home side's bowlers.

Shortly after the resumption, Haris Sohail became Stuart Thompson's first Test victim when he prodded to Irish captain William Porterfield at gully on 31, and Murtagh then tempted Babar Azam to edge to Paul Stirling at second slip.

Asad Shafiq had looked at ease until he pulled a delivery from Rankin straight to Andrew Balbirnie at square leg to depart for 62 and leave Pakistan five down.

And Ireland claimed their sixth wicket, with only 159 on the board, when Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was caught at second slip to become Thompson's second victim.

However, Ireland soon learned about the ebbs and flows of Test cricket as Shadab and Ashraf came together to rebuild the innings in the third and final session.

Porterfield returned to his front-line attack of Rankin and Murtagh and both came close to making a breakthrough, with Gary Wilson dropping a chance at first slip to remove Ashraf.

O'Brien then also failed to take an opportunity, which Wilson may have snagged had he not dived in his way, to dismiss Ashraf in a Rankin over that cost 18 runs.

The debutant also brought up his half-century during that period and Shadab soon brought up the landmark too.

Ahead of the new ball being available, Porterfield turned to spinner Stirling and Ashraf even heaved a delivery from him into the stands for the contest's first maximum.

The players came off just after that for bad light and thunder and heavy showers meant they would not return, with Shadab on 52 and Ashraf on 61.

Online Editors

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