Boyd Rankin

Ireland chip away, but Shadab and Ashraf stand firm

Ire v Pak, One-off Test, report

Hit For Six!

Play finally gets under way at Malahide with Ireland claiming six wickets before a late order comeback from Pakistan.


After the Dublin weather had kept Ireland waiting for one more day for their first ever Test, play finally got underway in Malahide on Saturday. There was also immediate success for the newest Test nation when their captain, William Porterfield, called correctly at the toss and Pakistan were asked to bat first.

Ireland line-up ahead of their first men's Test
Ireland line-up ahead of their first men's Test

It wasn’t much more of a wait for Ireland to get their first on-field success in a Test match when Boyd Rankin had Azhar Ali caught at second slip. It was a ball on an off-stump line that leapt and moved away just enough to take the shoulder of the bat. While this was Ireland’s first Test wicket, it wasn’t Rankin’s. The tall seamer played one Test for England in 2014 and picked up a wicket in that match.

From the very next ball Ireland had their second, debutant Imam-ul-Haq trapped lbw by Tim Murtagh for seven to leave the visitors 13/2. Ireland could not have hoped for a better start.

Pakistan looked to rebuild while the ball was still doing plenty, but what edges there were did not carry. All the bowlers got impressive looking lateral movement, but they could not find another wicket in the opening session as Pakistan reached lunch at 67/2, with Haris Sohail and Asad Shafiq unbeaten.

The stand was broken when Pakistan had reached 71 when Haris played at a ball away from his body with little feet movement and the ball was well caught by Porterfield diving forward in the gully off Stuart Thompson. 

While Shafiq stood firm on his way to a Test half century, wickets were falling around him. Babar Azam had made 16 when he had a dart at one outside his off stump that was claimed by Paul Stirling at second slip.

Malahide crowd enjoy their first day of Test cricket
Malahide crowd enjoy their first day of Test cricket

Shafiq was the next to go, for a well-made 62, and it was Rankin that got him with a short ball. He banged one in and Shafiq went for a pull shot that was caught at square leg. The pull shot has always been a strength of Shafiq but it brought about his downfall here as the ball got bigger on his than he was expecting.

When Safrraz Ahmed (20) also edged to the slips giving Thompson his second wicket that left Pakistan 159/6 and in serious danger of being bowled out for a sub-par score. From there a stunning partnership between Shadab Khan, playing in his second Test, and Fahim Ashraf, on debut, saved Pakistan’s blushes.

Both men made maiden Test fifties in a stand worth an undefeated 109, although Ireland had their chances to break it. The best of those came when Ashraf edged a ball from Rankin that could have been taken by either wicket-keeper, Niall O’Brien, or Gary Wilson at first slip. It ended up going to the boundary for four. Ashraf was on 40 at the time.

Bad light proceeded rain late in the day and it brought things to a close after 72 overs of enthralling cricket. Ireland will feel very happy with the first half of the day, Pakistan will be pleased with how their lower order fought back. That leaves this game very nicely poised. 

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