Culture&Arts

'A hell of an effort' - Ireland go down fighting against Pakistan

'A hell of an effort' - Ireland go down fighting against Pakistan

Imam ul-Haq and Babar Azam scored half-centuries as Pakistan beat Ireland by five wickets in what was the European side's first ever Test match in Malahide.

Hours earlier on day four, the Irish faced the prospect of an innings defeat but they lost only three wickets in the final two sessions to reach stumps on 7-319 in their second innings after following on. Opener Imam-ul-Haq, nephew of former captain and current chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, steadied the ship with a fine test debut, stroking an unbeaten 74 that provided the platform for victory.

Through Imam and Babar Azam though, Pakistan rallied to take lunch at 52/3.

Kevin O'Brien failed to add any runs to his overnight score of 118 before swinging at a wide delivery from Mohammad Abbas and edging to first slip.

Abbas took his second five-wicket haul in Test cricket, in his sixth game, to finish with figures of 5-66 in 28.3 overs.

There was still time for Ireland to take a couple more wickets but by then the match had escaped their grasp.

The unanimous verdict from the cricket world showed that it was great to see Ireland play Test cricket, and even greater to come out with an extremely competitive performance on their Test debut. Imam hit the winning runs as grey clouds threatening rain hung over Malahide. Together with Babar Azam, who made 59 after being dropped on nine, he kept Ireland at bay during a fourthwicket stand of 126.

Yet the controversial decision to shrink the 2019 World Cup in England to a 10-team tournament and Ireland's failure to come through an increasingly competitive qualifying tournament where only two spots were available means Porterfield's men will be on the outside looking in next year.

"Hopefully in the next week or two there's going to be hundreds of little kids aspiring to be Kevin O'Brien in backstreet cricket", added Porterfield.

Becoming just the fourth batsman to score a century in his country's maiden Test, Kevin O'Brien was deservedly adjudged Man of the Match.

Monday also saw Pakistan's Mohammad Amir take his 100th Test wicket, but the paceman was struggling with a knee injury.

Boyd Rankin followed up closely with another outing leaving Pakistan 13-2 - before Murtagh claimed his second of the innings bowling out Asad Shafiq as Pakistan moved to 14-3. There were 11 caps being handed out, we had all our family and friends here and with all the build up to the game there were a lot of emotions for every lad, so to go out and start how we did was fantastic.

The day didn't start as brightly for the Irish boys as they would've hoped. That's the character we've had and to be able to bring that into first Test is pleasing.

Cricket Ireland have said that one or two Test matches a year will probably be the limit that the Ireland side will play.

Only three teams have won a test after following on - England in 1894 and 1981, and India in 2001.


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