May 20, 2018

Ireland sets Pakistan victory target of 160

15 May 2018, 07:23 | Joan Schultz

Pakistan allowed to impose follow on with less than 200 runs lead

O'Brien century gives Ireland hope against Pakistan

Hours earlier on day four, the Irish faced the prospect of an innings defeat but they lost only three wickets in the final two sessions to reach stumps on 7-319 in their second innings after following on.

Ireland's hopes of pulling off a sensational victory in their maiden Test were enhanced on day five in Malahide as Pakistan dramatically collapsed to 14-3 having been set 160 to win.

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested after stumps on Sunday that Amir's lengthy time away from the game allied to the fact he had been involved in all three worldwide formats-Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20s-since coming back had taken a toll on the swing bowler.

Ireland, following on, began the day 116 runs behind Pakistan but with all 10 second-innings wickets in hand.

Pakistan took the new ball with Ireland 193 for six but Kevin O'BrienĀ“s response was to clip Abbas for a legside boundary.

But Imam-ul-Haq, like the whole Ireland team also making his Test debut, led a Pakistan recovery although the match was still very much in the balance.

At 14 for three and with the opening bowlers' tails up, there was a hum of anticipation in the ground that cricketing history could be made.

Even a draw would be a marvelous achievement for a country which was awarded test status only last June.

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The Ireland and Pakistan players together at Malahide.

Wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien managed to make 19 runs before he was clean bowled by Mohammad Amir, who then took out captain William Porterfield for 32 in his next over.

Tyrone Kane was with O'Brien on eight not out at the close.

However, with Ireland struggling at 157/6, Kevin O'Brien and Thompson came to the rescue as they amassed a 114-run partnership, during which Thompson brought up his half-century.

Cricket Ireland have said that one or two Test matches a year will probably be the limit that the Ireland side will play. Too late, we were already back in Kansas.

Kevin O'Brien failed to add any runs to his overnight score of 118 before swinging at a wide delivery from Mohammad Abbas and edging to first slip.

No side has enjoyed a victory in its first Test since Australia beat England in the foundation Test at Melbourne back in 1877, but Ireland are daring to dream, with the key wicket now Imam-ul-Haq who is unbeaten on 33.

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