Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Imam guides Pakistan to victory over test debutant Ireland

14 May 2018 Kevin O'Brien of Ireland celebrates after scoring a century during day four of the International Cricket Test match between Ireland and Pakistan at Malahide in Co. Dublin Kevin O'Brien becomes first Irish player to make a Test century
Marty Perkins | 17 May, 2018, 02:04

That proved to be the game ultimately as Azam went on to notch up only his fifth Test half-century in 24 innings while forming a match-winning partnership with Imam-ul-Haq.

Mohammad Abbas, benefiting from plenty of swing movement in overcast conditions, took the final three wickets of Ireland's second innings, including century-maker Kevin O'Brien.

Resuming on 118, O'Brien slashed at the first ball he faced on Tuesday - a wide one from Abbas - and edged to first slip.

Abbas also took the wickets of Boyd Rankin (6) and Tyrone Kane (14), who were both bowled, to finish with figures of 5-66.

With O'Brien one shy, Pakistan brought on Mohammad Amir, who had already accounted for Irish captain William Porterfield, O'Brien's brother Niall and Gary Wilson to reach 100 Test wickets.

Tim Murtagh had Azhar Ali (2) caught at first slip and bowled Asad Shafiq (1), either side of Sohail (7) departing to an excellent Ed Joyce catch in the gully off Rankin.

The 11th Test nation's optimism began to dissipate with Imam and Azam at the crease, though the former was fortunate an edge dropped short off Murtagh and the latter was nearly undone by a Rankin yorker.

The partnership built between the two shows great signs for Pakistan's upcoming test against England in Lords, most notably Imam's outstanding batting performance. Let's bask in and review Ireland's, and particularly O'Brien's, greatest day - I believe better than the World Cup win, because this was unknown territory for the Irish.




His team face England in next week's first Test at Lord's and are hoping fast bowler Mohammad Amir recovers from a knee niggle that troubled him throughout this game.

'We were definitely anxious at 14 for three, but we were confident we had a good batting side, ' said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed.

Ireland came up just short in their bid to pull off a miracle in their inaugural Test, but not before giving Pakistan an almighty scare.

"The biggest thing was how we fought back in the second innings with the bat - that showed the character we have", he said.

Even though Ireland failed to qualify for a fourth straight World Cup, their introduction to Test cricket has given them such an important and well-earned establishment into cricket throughout the world. Emotional - first Test and all that.

"But Test cricket is Test cricket for a reason, it's there in the name; you do get tested and we were after the first innings. This Test match has gone a long way to providing the next generation of cricketers I'm sure".

And only three teams - one for every century in which Test cricket has been played - have won after following-on, with South Africa in 1894, England in 1981 and India at Kolkata in 2001, all beating Australia having been sent back into bat. Although it was nearly inevitable that the upset was too far gone, Ireland further added to a respectable scoreline and outstanding match in general producing a further outing through Stuart Thompson's dismissal of Safraz Ahmed for 8, Pakistan now at 152-5.

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