Test­ing times for Ire­land in Malahide

Ire­land will start day four in Malahide need­ing 116 to make Pak­istan bat again

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Em­met Rior­dan at Malahide

Ire­land were given a les­son in the harsh re­al­i­ties they face in the early years of their Test-play­ing odyssey in Malahide yes­ter­day, but they also dis­played the kind of steel, de­ter­mi­na­tion and brav­ery that has marked their rise in the crick­et­ing world.

Forced to fol­low-on after be­ing bowled out by Pak­istan for 130 in their first in­nings – a first in­nings deficit of 180 – open­ers Ed Joyce and Wil­liam Porter­field went on to make amends sec­ond time around, record­ing Ire­land’s first half-cen­tury part­ner­ship after each was dropped early in their sec­ond in­nings.

When the ex­tended day’s play ended at 7pm, with Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jag­ger an in­ter­ested spec­ta­tor, Ire­land had moved on 64 with­out loss with Joyce on 39 not out and Porter­field un­beaten on 23.

Ire­land will start day four of the Test need­ing 116 to make Pak­istan bat again and they will be con­fi­dent of do­ing so after the start they en­joyed to the sec­ond in­nings.

Ire­land have waited long enough to get to the Test stage and Gary Wil­son wasn’t go­ing to miss out de­spite suf­fer­ing a sus­pected bro­ken bone in his el­bow after he was struck in an early morn­ing net ses­sion.

The Der­byshire player went to Santry Clinic for an X-ray that proved in­con­clu­sive, made it back to the ground and even­tu­ally went into bat at num­ber nine and play­ing through the pain bar­rier.

If Wil­son was in shock, so were his team-mates when they lost three wick­ets for just five runs after Pak­istan’s sur­prise first-in­nings dec­la­ra­tion on 310 for nine a half an hour be­fore lunch.

Joyce was unlucky first time around - given leg-be­fore by um­pire Richard Illing­worth to a ball that pitched out­side leg stump and even looked like it would go on to miss leg stump.

Ab­bas also trapped An­drew Bal­birnie leg-be­fore for a duck and Mo­ham­mad Amir com­pleted the night­mare start when he up­rooted Porter­field’s off stump to leave Ire­land reel­ing on five for three.

Ab­bas struck again in his first over after lunch, earn­ing a third leg-be­fore de­ci­sion, this time against Niall O’Brien to leave Ire­land on seven for four, with talk turn­ing to the record books and the low­est in­nings scores in Test cricket.

Rel­ish

Thank­fully Paul Stir­ling and Kevin O’Brien moved Ire­land past the 26 New Zealand made against Eng­land in 1955 in Auck­land and had added 29 be­fore Stir­ling un­did all the good work with a waft of pull shot off Fa­heem Ashraf that bob­bled up to Babar Azam at ex­tra cover.

Kevin O’Brien looked to be rel­ish­ing his Test in­nings de­but but Ire­land con­tin­ued to lose wick­ets, with Stuart Thomp­son and Ty­rone Kane both be­ing found out by leg-spin­ner Shadab Khan in the space of three de­liv­er­ies.

Wear­ing an arm guard on his in­jured right hand, Wil­son would go to face 74 de­liv­er­ies de­spite look­ing in dis­com­fort through­out his in­nings and fin­ished on 33 not out, Ire­land’s sec­ond high­est score after Kevin O’Brien’s 40.

Boyd Rankin also played a part in Ire­land’s re­vival, the 6ft 8ins open­ing bowler mak­ing 17 from 50 balls and hang­ing around for 54 min­utes be­fore be­com­ing Ab­bas’s fourth wicket of the in­nings. Shadab wrapped things up first time around when Imam-ul-Haq held a sharp catch at short leg to dis­miss Tim Murtagh for five.

Pak­istan en­forced the fol­low-on for the first time in 16 years, but it was a dif­fer­ent story sec­ond time around, although both Joyce and Porter­field sur­vived early chances be­fore go­ing on to flourish as the long shad­ows moved over the out­field.

Wil­son ad­mit­ted that the thought of miss­ing out on a Test in­nings after wait­ing so long to play in one made him play through the pain bar­rier.

“I didn’t want to miss a chance to bat in a Test match, they just drugged me up and I got out there and got on with it.

“It was pretty sore but the adrenalin kicked in and I was able to get through it, ob­vi­ously got us up to 130 or what­ever. It’s prob­a­bly not ideal, not where we want to be but the boys at the end there were un­be­liev­able. To go back out, that showed a lot of guts,” he said.

Lim­ited to de­flec­tions more than full-blooded shots, Wil­son also took a tum­ble while try­ing to re­tain the strike late on.

“The coach and cap­tain asked me to face as much of the leg-spin­ner as I could so I thought of that when­ever Murts came in, that I bet­ter try and get down the other end and half­way through I im­me­di­ately re­gret­ted it when I re­alised I would have to dive.”

Pak­istan had an in­jury is­sue of their own, with Amir hav­ing to leave the field in the fi­nal ses­sion with an in­jury to his left knee.

It com­pleted a dra­matic third day of the in­au­gu­ral Test, dur­ing which 125 for­mer men’s and women’s in­ter­na­tion­als were pa­raded dur­ing the team in­ter­val in front of a crowd of 2,400. They’ll have ad­mired the way this present side bounced back against the odds on another thrilling day of Test cricket.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GETTY IM­AGES

Ire­land’s Kevin O’Brien at the crease on day three of in­au­gu­ral Test match against Pak­istan at Malahide.

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