Ireland set to make Test splash when sun appears

Mae Harvey
May 12, 2018

Pakistan gave Test debuts to opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq and medium-pacer Faheem Ashraf.

An expectant crowd of nearly 6,000 filled the temporary stands in anticipation of witnessing a piece of sporting history, with Tim Murtagh, the Middlesex seamer, delivering the historic first ball - and it wasn't without drama.

Ireland XI: William Porterfield, Ed Joyce, Andrew Balbirnie, Niall O'Brien, Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson, Kevin O'Brien, Stuart Thompson, Tyrone Kane, Tim Murtagh, Boyd Rankin.

It is a historic match for both teams and especially for Ireland.

Imam is the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq and his inclusion in the squad provoked allegations of nepotism. O'Reilly, who also works with Dublin's senior footballers, would not have expected to be dealing with an impact injury after the first ball.

Boyd Rankin became the 15th player to play Test cricket for two different nations when he took the field for Ireland on Saturday.

Rankin, whose last Test appearance was in England's nightmare Ashes tour in 2013/2014, was mobbed by his team-mates, with celebrations in the stands just as joyous.

Imam was leg before wicket for seven to a Murtagh delivery that came back into him.

At tea, Tim Murtagh and fellow pacemen Rankin and Stuart Thompson had taken two wickets each. Thompson had more time than he thought and could have settled himself, but after all the excitement that went before he could be forgiven for firing in the ball.

But the 22-year-old left-hander, who hit a hundred on his one-day global debut against Sri Lanka last year, has made fifties against both Kent and Northamptonshire in Pakistan's two warm-up matches ahead of this one-off Test.

Shafiq began to steady the Pakistan ship and reached his 50 from 107 balls after the restart.

Pakistan, 67 for two at lunch, lost their third wicket soon afterwards when Haris was caught in the gully by Porterfield off Thompson.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (20) was caught by Stirling in the slips off Thompson.

Pakistan survived without any further damage, with Shadab and Ashraf showing the kind of form that would see them go on to dominate the Irish attack in the final session.

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