Ireland impress in inaugural Test before Pakistan rally
|Only Test, Malahide, Dublin (day two of five)|
|Pakistan 268-6 (76 overs): Shafiq 62, Faheem 61*, Shadad 52*|
|Ireland: Yet to bat|
Ireland restricted Pakistan to 268-6 as they made an encouraging start to life in Test cricket at Malahide.
The sun shone after the day-one washout and Boyd Rankin took Ireland’s first Test wicket before Tim Murtagh struck to leave Pakistan 13-2.
The tourists recovered but Asad Shafiq (62) was one of four wickets to fall after lunch to leave Pakistan 159-6.
Shadab Khan (52) and Faheem Ashraf (61) put on an unbroken 109-run partnership before bad light ended play.
Pakistan, sent into bat by Ireland captain William Porterfield, lost two wickets in successive balls on a pitch offering some sideways movement.
Rankin, the 15th man ever, 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 in 2014, had an uncertain Azhar Ali (four) edging to Porterfield at second slip.
Barely had the crowd’s cheers subsided when Pakistan were 13-2 off the very next ball with Imam ul-Haq, who was injured in a collision in the game’s first ball, lbw for seven to a Murtagh delivery that came back into him.
After a few near run-outs, Pakistan’s third-wicket duo settled in – Shafiq square-cut Kane for four, with left-hander Haris Sohail glancing Stuart Thompson for a legside boundary.
Pakistan, 67-2 at lunch, lost their third wicket soon afterwards when Haris (31) was caught in the gully by Porterfield off Thompson.
Babar Azam (14), pushing hard at a Murtagh delivery that left him off the pitch, was well-held by Paul Stirling at second slip.
Shafiq went on to complete a 107-ball fifty when he pulled Rankin for a single.
But with the towering Rankin, bowling from around the wicket, a similar shot proved Shafiq’s undoing when he found Andrew Balbirnie at square leg.
And when Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (20) was caught by Stirling in the slips off Thompson, the tourists were struggling at 159-6.
But Shadab and Faheem turned the tide in style with maiden Test fifties at the County Dublin venue.
Faheem, however, did have a break when, on 36, he edged Rankin only for a diving Niall O’Brien to miss the catch and give the obscured Gary Wilson at first slip no chance of taking the ball.
Duly reprieved, he went to fifty in just 52 balls, including seven fours, with Shadab following him to the landmark in 89 balls.
When Stirling came on, a well-set Faheem launched the part-time spinner over long-on for six.
Bad light saw the players leave the field late in the afternoon and after a thunderclap and a heavy downpour 20 minutes later, play was abandoned for the day.
Murtagh admitted it was a frustrating end to day two but is hopeful the arrival of a new ball early on Sunday morning will reap rewards.
“It is a bit of a disappointment as we got the ball swinging for the majority of the day,” the 36-year-old said.
“It is shame that the partnership at the end has taken it a little bit away from us.
“It’s probably a lack of cricket for the whole squad, a bit of tiredness in the legs towards the end there perhaps has taken its toll a little bit, but we are up to the new ball pretty much straight away in the morning.”
Irish Test caps were presented to the team prior to play finally getting under way,
“It was really special – it’s the sort of thing that I hadn’t thought much about before but all the families were there in the background.,” added Murtagh
“I think a couple of boys did get a bit emotional – a sort of spine-tingling moment.”