Ireland vs Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam guide visitors to five-wicket win over Test debutants

Pakistan, set a seemingly modest 160 to win, after earlier making Ireland follow-on, collapsed to 14 for three before lunch on the fifth day

AFP, May 15, 2018

Dublin: Pakistan debutant Imam-ul-Haq saw his side to victory as Ireland's first match in men's Test cricket ended in a gallant last-day defeat by five wickets at Malahide on Tuesday.

Pakistan, set a seemingly modest 160 to win, after earlier making Ireland follow-on, collapsed to 14 for three before lunch on the fifth day.

But 22-year-old left-handed opener Imam, the nephew of Pakistan chief selector and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, responded to the pressure with 74 not out, his maiden fifty at this level.

Pakistan's captain Sarfraz Ahmed poses with the trophy after beating Ireland on the final day of Ireland's inaugural test match against Pakistan at Malahide cricket club, in Dublin on May 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITH

Pakistan's captain Sarfraz Ahmed poses with the trophy after beating Ireland on the final day. AFP

Together with Babar Azam, who made 59 after being dropped on nine, he kept Ireland at bay during a fourth-wicket stand of 126.

Imam hit the winning runs as grey clouds threatening rain hung over Malahide.

The victory was a good way for Pakistan to prepare for the first of a two-Test series against England at Lord's starting on 24 May.

Just four balls into their chase, Pakistan saw Azhar Ali edge Tim Murtagh to Paul Stirling at first slip.

Haris Sohail (seven) fell next, well taken in the gully by Ed Joyce off towering fast bowler Boyd Rankin as Ireland's two former England internationals combined in an effective opening spell.

And 13 for two became 14 for three in 4.3 overs when Middlesex paceman Murtagh produced a superb delivery to bowl Asad Shafiq between bat and pad for one.

Imam, who bats in spectacles, showed a maturity beyond many of his more experienced top-order colleagues.

He struck two fine fours off Stuart Thompson, a square cut followed by a square drive.

Ireland needed to take every chance that came their way but, with Babar yet to add to his interval score, he was dropped in the slips by Andrew Balbirnie.

Imam, having cover driven a four off Rankin, completed a 61-ball fifty with seven boundaries, the third time he had reached the landmark this tour after half-centuries in warm-up matches against Kent and Northamptonshire.

Babar, cashed in to make a 61-ball fifty. But with Pakistan 20 runs shy of victory, a mix-up saw Babar run out.

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

Earlier, Ireland were dismissed for 339 in their second innings.

Kevin O'Brien, who on Monday became the first Ireland batsman to score a Test hundred, fell to his first ball on Tuesday as Mohammad Abbas had him caught by Haris at slip for 118.

The Irish, resuming on 319 for seven, saw Abbas then take three wickets for 12 runs in 22 balls, the paceman finishing with an innings haul of five for 66 in 28.3 overs.

Only three sides in the 141-year history of Test cricket had won after being made to follow on and only one men's team, Australia in the inaugural Test against England at Melbourne in 1877, had enjoyed a victory in their debut match at this level.

Slashing drive 

Ireland were facing an innings defeat when man-of-the-match O'Brien came in at 95 for four but, ably assisted by Stuart Thompson, who made 53, he turned the tide during a seventh-wicket partnership of 114.

But after Tyrone Kane had seen out Tuesday's opening over from Mohammad Amir, who took his 100th Test wicket on Monday, Abbas struck.

O'Brien going down on one knee to attempt a slashing drive off a wide half-volley from Abbas, nicked to Haris.

A crestfallen O'Brien bowed his head in frustration and dropped his bat as he trudged off the field.

But the 34-year-old had every reason to be proud of an innings that spanned five hours, 44 minutes and saw him face 217 balls with 12 fours.

Updated Date: May 15, 2018

T20 LEAGUE POINTS TABLE

Pos. Team P W L D Pts.
1
Hyderabad
14 9 5 0 18
2
Chennai
14 9 5 0 18
3
Kolkata
14 8 6 0 16
4
Rajasthan
14 7 7 0 14
5
Mumbai
14 6 8 0 12
6
Bangalore
14 6 8 0 12
7
Punjab
14 6 8 0 12
8
Delhi
14 5 9 0 10




Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3499 125
2 South Africa 3589 112
3 Australia 3499 106
4 New Zealand 2354 102
5 England 3511 98
6 Sri Lanka 2914 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5257 125
2 India 5492 122
3 South Africa 3842 113
4 New Zealand 4602 112
5 Australia 3327 104
6 Pakistan 3279 102
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 2990 130
2 Australia 1894 126
3 India 3932 123
4 New Zealand 2542 116
5 England 1951 115
6 South Africa 2058 114