Weather is likely to play spoilsport as Ireland host Pakistan in their first-ever Test in Dublin on Friday.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed had confirmed the team will field the same XI that played against Northamptonshire, which means Test debuts for all-rounder Faheem Ashraf and top order batsman Imam-ul-Haq.
Sarfraz said it was a great moment for the team to be a part of the historic Test. “It is a big honour for me and my team to play this historic Test match – the first Test match to be played in Ireland,” said Sarfraz.
Pakistan’s bowling attack is set to be led by Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas and Rahat Ali. However, there was no place for fast bowler Hasan Ali in the line-up.
Azhar Ali is expected to bat alongside Imam at the top. The middle order of Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam looks light on experience.
Ireland have no dearth of experience with the likes of captain William Porterfield, Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien, Kevin O’Brien and Boyd Rankin absolute veterans of Associate and first-class cricket.
Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien (wk), Andy Balbirnie, Kevin O’Brien, Gary Wilson, Stuart Thompson, Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh, Andy McBrine
Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Abbas
The Pakistan man was sent a hand-written letter by a New Zealand cricket fan named Felix Anderson two years ago where the then 10-year-old fan had asked the batsman for some advice related to certain cricket strokes.
“Dear Mr Khan, my name is Felix. I’m ten years old and live in New Zealand. I’m writing to you because you are one of my biggest heroes. Your technique is beautiful to watch. How perfect your cover drive is; or how well your cut is timed,” Felix wrote in the letter.
“Your 318 against Sri Lanka was incredible to watch; it showed me how much I want to be a professional cricketer and bat third.
Dear Felix, thank you for this sweet letter. I know this is almost two years old, but it only came across me now. I will surely make a small video to give you some tips as you requested 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/Mhaz5nTsfn— Younis Khan (@iam_Younis) April 25, 2018
“Also, this year against England your 318 was spectacular. You’re an excellent slip fielder and a very reliable batsman. Can you please give me some advice on the cut shot, or the cover drive? Good luck in your upcoming matches, and have a happy new year. Felix Anderson.”
It took two years for the letter to reach Younis but Pakistan’s leading run-getter in Test cricket wasted no time in responding to the young fan.
“Dear Felix, thank you for this sweet letter. I know this is almost two years old, but it only came across me now. I will surely make a small video to give you some tips as you requested,” Younis had written on Twitter in April.
True to his word, the 40-year-old posted the video on Twitter on Monday where he can be seen demonstrating the cover-drive and cut shot.
As promised, here is the coaching tip manual on the cover drive and cut shot for the 12 year old Felix from New Zealand who wrote a letter to me. I hope you enjoy this, practice it & improve your game. All the best Felix. Hope to see you playing for your country one day 😊 pic.twitter.com/lnzP2yz9gT— Younis Khan (@iam_Younis) May 7, 2018
“As promised, here is the coaching tip manual on the cover drive and cut shot for the 12 year old Felix from New Zealand who wrote a letter to me. I hope you enjoy this, practice it & improve your game. All the best Felix. Hope to see you playing for your country one day,” the Pakistan man wrote in the post accompanying the video tutorial.
To receive batting tips from a man who has scored over 10,000 Test runs will surely be a lifelong highlight for the Kiwi cricket fan.
Pakistan cruised to a nine-wicket win against Northamptonshire on Monday after making light work chasing 133 at Wantage Road.
Warming-up for their first Test match against debutants Ireland, starting on Friday, the tourists were set-up by Asad Shafiq‘s unbeaten 186 in the first innings while Shadab Khan claimed 10 for 157 overall.
Earlier on Monday, Mohammed Abbas made the key breakthrough to dismiss Rob Newston for 118 and Khan cleaned up the tail to establish a comfortable victory target.
Half-centuries from Imam Ul-Haq, nephew of Inzamam Ul-Haq, and Haris Sohail saw the Men in Green comfortably over the line.
The first Test takes place in Malahide, near Dublin.