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Ireland put up a brave performance in their Test debut even though Pakistan managed to win.
But the win for Pakistan did not come as easily as many expected. After being 6 down for less than 200, Pakistan managed to get 310 thanks to some useful runs from the lower order.
With the ball in hand, Pakistan looked determined to end the fairytale of Irish cricket and give then reality check as they bowled out Ireland for 130 in the first innings. After the horror show with the bat, Ireland fought with a purpose in second innings as following on they were 64-0 at the stumps on day-2.
As you would expect one name which has shine as always for Ireland an O’Brien brother turned up to ruin the show for Pakistan. As much as they would have wanted to do a repeat of their inaugural 50 over battle back in 2007 which led to Pakistan shocking defeat in World Cup group stage and ultimately the untimely exit.
Kevin O’Brien became the first player to score a Test century for Ireland and he was there at the close on 118 not out, with his 114-run partnership with Stuart Thompson (53) for the seventh wicket proving decisive.
Unfortunately, all the effort to curb his natural attacking instinct proved to reason for his innings demise as Kevin was dismissed the first ball he faced on Day-3 and Pakistan needed only 160 runs to win.
But Ireland certainly wasn’t done yet as they reduced Pakistan to 15-3 soon if not Babar Azam chance wouldn’t have gone down at nine who would go on to make a fifty in partnership with Imam Ul Haq, who stayed unbeaten with 74* to guide the team home. Ireland were in with chance, certainly more runs and taking catches would have helped, but first innings are what they would want to take back.
But in all, it was fighting effort from a team playing its first Test for a country who don’t play top Test teams more often even in coloured jerseys. Ireland have always punched above their weight and last year ICC granting them Test status was a testament to that fact.
With more games and more importantly experience against a top Test team, the exposure will help Irish cricket in long run. Perhaps, for now, the generation of Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, O’Brien and Gary Wilson can be proud of what they achieved in last ten years and pass on the knowledge to younger players who would be in better position to carry the legacy forward.
Despite the loss, it’s a victory for Ireland cricket as they took on Pakistan head on.