–Ireland maintain grip after Pakistan’s top order collapse on inaugural Test
DUBLIN: Shadab Khan and debutant Faheem Ashraf saved the day for Pakistan against Ireland as wickets kept falling at Malahide on Saturday.
The day was wrapped up due to bad light and the green shirts finished on 268 for the loss of six wickets. Shadab (52) and Faheem (61) helped the sinking ship with their unbeaten 109-run partnership.
Ireland enjoyed their inaugural Test by dismissing Pakistan dangerman Asad Shafiq. Pakistan, who had seen Shafiq make 62 as they recovered from losing two wickets in successive balls to be 13 for two, were 193 for six at tea on the second day after being sent into bat by Ireland captain William Porterfield following Friday’s first-day washout.
Boyd Rankin, the 15th man and the first since Kepler Wessels (Australia and South Africa) 25 years ago to play Test cricket for two nations after making a lone appearance for England, had the honour of taking Ireland’s first Test wicket.
At tea, Tim Murtagh and fellow pacemen Rankin and Stuart Thompson had taken two wickets each.
Murtagh had two for 30 in 14 overs, Rankin two for 33 in 14 and Thompson a slightly more expensive two for 47 in 13, with Ireland opting against including a specialist spinner in their XI.
Shafiq and Haris Sohail (31), who put on 58 for the third wicket, had yet to make more than 30 in the innings.
There was drama at a sun-drenched Malahide even before the wickets fell, with Pakistan debutant Imam-ul-Haq injured off the first ball of the match.
Azhar Ali dug out a Murtagh delivery and called for a quick legside single.
Non-striker Imam, in scrambling to complete the run, found himself sandwiched between wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien and Tyrone Kane in a heavy collision.
The 22-year-old was left flat on the ground and needed several minutes’ treatment on the field, but he recovered to face the second ball of the match, with Imam playing and missing.
Imam, the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, scored a hundred on his one-day international debut against Sri Lanka last year.
The left-hander, who came into this match following fifties in Pakistan’s two warm-up fixtures, against Kent and Northamptonshire, square-drove Murtagh for a stylish four.
But it did not take long for Ireland to make a stunning double strike.
Rankin had an uncertain Azhar (four) edging to Porterfield at second slip.
That left Pakistan 13 for one off the last ball of the eighth over.
Barely had the crowd’s cheers subsided, then Pakistan were 13 for two off the very next ball.
Imam was lbw for seven to a Murtagh delivery that came back into him.
After a few near run-outs, Pakistan’s third-wicket duo settled in.
Shafiq square-cut Kane for four, with left-hander Haris glancing Thompson for a legside boundary.
Pakistan, 67 for two at lunch, lost their third wicket soon afterwards when Haris was caught in the gully by Porterfield off Thompson.
Babar Azam (14), pushing hard at a Murtagh delivery that left him off the pitch, was well-held by Paul Stirling at second slip.
Shafiq went on to complete a 107-ball fifty when he pulled Rankin for a single.
But with the towering Rankin, bowling from around the wicket, a similar shot proved Shafiq’s undoing when he found Andrew Balbirnie at square leg.
And when Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (20) was caught by Stirling in the slips off Thompson, the tourists were 159 for six in this stand-alone match.