Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Ireland start strong but Faheem and Shadab keep Pakistan in the game

Irish hopes intact as bad weather derails Test debut Ireland's introduction to Test cricket after 144-year wait ruined by rain
Eugene Bates | 12 May, 2018, 20:59

Ireland has had a wet welcome to Test cricket with the opening day of their inaugural one-off match against Pakistan completely wiped out by bad weather.

And they were aided by the excuse that Ireland were on top for most parts of the first two sessions, troubling the Pakistani batsmen with the moving ball, and bagging as many as six wickets before Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan combined to put on a century stand en route their respective fifties and seized the initiative.

The International Cricket Council awarded Ireland Test status in June a year ago, while Pakistan were then named as their first opponents in cricket's longest format.

In a huge scramble, Ul-Haq made a last-ditch dive towards the stumps only to collide with the Irish duo of wicket-keeper Niall O'Brien and fielder Tyrone Kane.

The day started eventfully enough with Debutant Imam-ul-Haq almost managing to run himself out off the first Irish ball in Test cricket.

Boyd Rankin, the 15th man and the first since Kepler Wessels (Australia and South Africa) 25 years ago to play Test cricket for two nations after making a lone appearance for England, had the honour of taking Ireland's first Test wicket.

For Ireland, the new ball - four overs away - will offer some succour as they look to take the last four wickets they need.

But he recovered and faced his first ball, the second of the match, from Murtagh with Imam, who had had a cold press applied to the back of his neck, playing and missing before he saw out the remainder of the over at a sunny Malahide.

After the first hour, Pakistan were 22 for two, but they enjoyed a far better second hour as Haris and Asad Shafiq upped the scoring rate, putting on 54 runs as the pitch showed that any help for the bowlers will be minimal.

The third wicket pair combined to add 58 runs before one of Sohail's edges was taken by a fine Porterfield catch at slips. The latter become the fastest half-centurion for Pakistan on debut, bringing up his 50 off only 52 balls.

Pakistan rebuilt and managed to not lose a wicket before the lunch break.

And when Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (20) was caught by Stirling in the slips off Thompson, the tourists were 159 for six in this stand-alone match.

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