Monday 23 September 2019

Ireland's hopes rest with their batting prowess

Ireland's Boyd Rankin
Ireland's Boyd Rankin

Ger Siggins

The cliché has it that football is a game of two halves, but Test cricket is a game of four quarters, with each innings obeying different laws of dynamics.

So, while Ireland enjoyed the best of the first two sessions of the First Test at Malahide, judgement must wait until their turn to bat. They let the game run away from them after tea before bad light and rain arrived with over an hour left to play, leaving Pakistan on 268-6.

Ireland certainly set out their plan before the toss when they omitted the spinner, Andrew McBrine, and banked on five seamers to get the 20 wickets. The attack veered from Boyd Rankin's bat-jarring bounce to Tyrone Kane's skiddy seamers, but even in helpful bowling conditions several batsmen were able to play themselves in against the all right-arm-over attack.

Graham Ford delivered a sub-par fielding display which saw a couple of missed run-outs and at least two catches going a-begging. It allowed Pakistan to come back into the game from 159-6 as Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf both scored maiden fifties.

Ireland had two big concerns in the opposition top order, and both were removed by Boyd Rankin. Azhar Ali was caught at slip in the eighth over, but Asad Shafiq took a bit more budging, eventually going for 62.

Tim Murtagh admitted he "hadn't really thought" about bowling Ireland's opening delivery until William Porterfield won the toss.

"It was a bit of a loosener, and led to a bit of controversy, but it was good to get it out of the way," he said.

"I was a bit disappointed Boyd got the first wicket, but to get the next one straight away was magic."

He also considered it "a shame" that Ireland let the Pakistan batsmen get on top.

"Boyd Rankin was exceptional, but we spilled a couple of chances late on which could have had us in a better position."

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