Batsman Kevin O’Brien is confident his “emotional” century on day four of Ireland’s first ever Test match puts Ireland in a strong position going into the final day.
The home side recovered from 157/6 to end day four on 319/7 with a lead of 139 runs with three wickets intact, after O'Brien etched himself into the record books as Ireland's first ever Test match centurion. The stadium rose to applaud the beaming Irishman – the chief catalyst of a thrilling comeback.
Speaking after the match against Pakistan at Malahide, the red-haired centurion, 118 not out, said: “I’m very proud and a bit emotional as well. It’s a great feeling to get there in the end. I felt very comfortable in the first innings as well and played a rash shot on 40. Once I got in today I said: ‘don’t throw it away like you did yesterday’. It’s very pleasing to bat for four or five hours and put us in a good position to go into tomorrow."
The magic of Test cricket.@KevinOBrien113's history-making century pulls Ireland from the brink and takes them into a final day against Pakistan at Malahide.#IREvPAK Day 4 REPORT ➡️ https://t.co/ao6SMzvXEM pic.twitter.com/agPu5u51bl— ICC (@ICC) May 14, 2018
The veteran shared a 114-run stand with Stuart Thompson before Tyrone Kane kept him company at the crease.
“Thommo batted unbelievably well,” said O’Brien. “He’s a highly talented player. Hopefully now it’s the start of a very successful career for him with bat and ball. He was fantastic after tea, took the pressure off me. Tyrone [then] came in. He’s more of a dasher who likes to score quickly but he reined it in to bat out for over an hour and a half. That was a tremendous effort for him.”
O’Brien, buoyed by signs that the pitch may be starting to deteriorate, insists an historic upset could be on the cards.
“I said if we got a lead of 150-odd it gives us a great opportunity," he said. "We’re only ten behind that now, so if we can add another 50, 60 runs in the morning, hopefully we can take a Pakistan win out of the game, take a few early wickets and put them under pressure.
“We saw a couple [of balls] in the last couple of overs act a bit uncharacteristically. Hopefully with another session of us batting the dents and cracks will start to appear and we might get a few to shoot along the ground.”