Ireland took three early wickets against Pakistan at Malahide on Tuesday to give themselves hope of a sensational victory after following on in their debut match as a men’s Test nation. Pakistan, set a seemingly modest 160 for victory on the fifth and final day, slumped to 14 for three inside five overs.
Just four balls into their chase, Pakistan saw experienced opener Azhar Ali undone by a Tim Murtagh delivery he could only edge 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.
Pakistan reached lunch on 52-3 with opener Imam-ul-Haq batting on 33. Post lunch, Imam-up-Haq and Babar Azam continued to build on their promising stand. The two ultimately added 126 runs for the fourth wicket before Azam was run-out after a horrible mix-up.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was dismissed for eight runs but Imam-up-Haq remained unbeaten on 74 as Pakistan won by five wickets to spare in the end.
Pakistan were set a target of 160 to win their stand alone-Test against Ireland at Malahide on Tuesday’s fifth and final day.
Ireland, making their debut in men’s Test cricket, were bowled out for 339 in their second innings after being made to follow-on.
Kevin O’Brien, who on Monday became the first Ireland batsman to score a Test hundred, fell to his first ball Tuesday as Mohammad Abbas had him caught by Haris Sohail at slip for his overnight 118.
Ireland, resuming on 319 for seven, lost their last three wickets for 20 runs on Tuesday.
Abbas did all the damage in a burst of three wickets for 12 runs in 22 balls, with the paceman finishing with innings figures of five for 66 in 28.3 overs.
Only three sides in the 141-year history of Test cricket have won after being made to follow-on and only one men’s team — Australia in the inaugural Test against England at Melbourne in 1877 — have enjoyed a victory in their debut match at this level.
In what was already a historic occasion for Ireland cricket, Kevin O’Brien made it even more memorable.
The 34-year-old became the first player to score a Test century for Ireland, leading his side in a remarkable fightback against Pakistan in their maiden Test match.
It was fitting that O’Brien should be the one to carve out that particular slice of history. He was the architect of Ireland’s most famous innings to date, the match-winning 113 against England in the 2011 World Cup which at the time was the fastest-ever World Cup century.
In that innings he had come in when Ireland looked down and out, at 106-4 in a tall chase, and Monday’s moment of glory came in similar circumstances. His side were 95-4 in their second innings when he came out to bat, after Pakistan had bowled them out for 130 and enforced the follow-on. The Irish soon lost two more wickets, but O’Brien stitched a crucial partnership with Stuart Thompson (53) to bring them back into the match.
That partnership saw a few historic moments, as first O’Brien then Thompson reached their fifties, and went on to make Ireland’s first 100-run stand before Thompson was dismissed.
O’Brien’s moment came soon after, bringing up his century off the 186th delivery he faced, squirting an edge into the off-side. Ireland crossed the 300-run mark in a memorable day for both teams with Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir picking up his 100th wicket earlier in the day.