Having fought on even terms with Pakistan on their first day of Test cricket the previous day, Ireland were exposed to the harsh realities of the longest format at The Village in Malahide, Dublin, on Sunday (May 13). Through a combination of pace and spin, Pakistan blasted their way through the Irish line-up, bundling them out for 130 in their first innings after having declared their first dig at 310 for 9.
With the scheduled first day of the game on Friday abandoned without a ball being bowled, Pakistan had the option of enforcing the follow on after opening up a lead of 180, the follow-on figure pegged back to 150 in what in effect is a four-day Test. Sarfraz Ahmed used the option, hoping to feed off Irish insecurity, but the home side offered far sterner resistance in the second innings through William Porterfield and Ed Joyce, the openers.
At stumps on day three of their inaugural Test, Ireland had battled to 64 without loss, needing a further 116 to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat.
Pakistan had started the day on 268 for 6, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf looking to extend their overnight stand of 109. They suffered their first jolt in the day’s fifth over when Tim Murtagh trapped the former in front for 55. There was no century for Ashraf when he was caught behind off Stuart Thompson for 83. Sarfraz applied the declaration a little later, hoping to exploit the overhead conditions.
His designs bore fruit as Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas ripped the heart out of the Irish batting. In the short passage to lunch, Ireland had wobbled to 5 for 3, and when they lost Niall O’Brien to subside to 7 for 4, they were in danger of being bowled out for the lowest score by a Test nation on debut.
South Africa’s 84, against England in 1889, however remained safe as Kevin O’Brien led the spirited late resistance. Riding early luck, O’Brien played with freedom in making a 68-ball 40 while Gary Wilson braved injury to remain unbeaten on 33, made in an hour and a half, while putting on 34 for the ninth wicket with Boyd Rankin and a further 23 for the last with Murtagh.
Abbas finished with 4 for 44 while Shadab used his legspin and googly to telling effect to end up with 3 for 31. Amir bowled far better than already impressive figures of 2 for 9 from 10 overs would suggest.
Faced with a mountain, Ireland acquitted themselves with much greater credit while batting a second time around. Porterfield dug in to cut out the risks and focus on survival while Joyce was a little more enterprising, striking five fours on his way to 39 not out. With two days remaining, Pakistan will fancy their chances of driving home the advantage, but Ireland have already shown that they won’t simply roll over.