Irish begin test cricket well but Pakistan finish day on top
DUBLIN (AP) — An unbeaten century partnership between newcomer Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan switched the momentum to Pakistan after Ireland made a credible start to its inaugural cricket test on Saturday.
After an opening day washout, Ireland took advantage of seam conditions by making Pakistan bat and reducing the visitors to 159-6 in the second session.
But Khan, batting lower than usual, and allrounder Ashraf, on debut, began a recovery before tea in the grounds of Malahide Castle, just north of Dublin. When bad light stopped play after 76 overs, Pakistan was 268-6 and in charge, with Ashraf 61 not out and Khan 52 not out.
They added 75 runs in 17 overs after tea, and rode some luck.
Ashraf was dropped twice at first slip by Gary Wilson, on 24 and 36. The second time was in a 71st over in which Ashraf plundered seamer Boyd Rankin for four boundaries to rush to his maiden half-century in 52 balls.
Just before stumps was called, Ashraf slammed spinner Paul Stirling over long on for the only six of the day. He was 61 not out off 69 balls.
Khan, meanwhile, also hit seven boundaries but with much more patience. He reached his first half-century after tea, also, and he was 52 off 91 balls.
Their stand was worth 109 runs, so far.
Rankin, the former England international and only Irish player with test experience, had the honor of Ireland’s first test wicket when Azhar Ali (4) edged him to second slip in the eighth over.
Debutant Imam ul-Haq (7) went the very next ball, to Tim Murtagh, struck on the knee roll and given out leg before wicket, leaving Pakistan at 13-2.
With Haris Sohail (31) and Asad Shafiq at the crease, Pakistan did not lose another wicket before lunch.
Shafiq moved to a 107-ball 50 in the afternoon session as his side reached 135-4.
Rankin eventually tempted Shafiq to pull to square leg on 62, giving him, Murtagh and Stuart Thompson two wickets apiece.
But their figures then took a thrashing from Ashraf and Khan.
Earlier, Ireland had a first ball in test cricket to remember when Azhar took a single off Murtagh. But in the process, opening partner Iman was injured. Diving to make his crease as Tyrone Kane tried to throw down the stumps, Imam — nephew of Pakistan great Inzamam — collided with onrushing wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien.
After a brief delay, Imam was able to carry on, with no wicket lost.
Ireland is the 11th nation to play the longest format of the game after the International Cricket Council awarded test status last June.