Testing times for Ireland in Malahide
Ireland will start day four in Malahide needing 116 to make Pakistan bat again
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.
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.
Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien at the crease on day three of inaugural Test match against Pakistan at Malahide.