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HomeCricketPreview: Only Test - Ireland v Pakistan.

Preview: Only Test – Ireland v Pakistan.

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

Ireland vs Pakistan Preview Cricket Blog
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

HISTORY! The 11th Test team will take the field tomorrow, and I can’t wait.

In a week where Australia thinks Bangladesh isn’t important enough, it’s nice to see a smaller cricketing nation get the attention they deserve. It’s also nice to see Test cricket back, amid all the IPL 2018 action, and what a beautiful occasion it promises to be.

It’s been a long 18 years, but we finally have an 11th Test team, and it’s very well deserved for the Irish. The weather forecast across the five days doesn’t look too promising, which is a shame, but it’s an occasion to be celebrated nonetheless.

It is fair to say Ireland deserved Test status five or six years ago, when many of their players were at their peak. They have always been punching above their weight over the years, and they have what it takes to give Pakistan a difficult time, weather permitting. Their squad boasts 1,125 games of first class experience, so if Pakistan walk onto the field expecting to roll over the Irish easily, they have another thing coming.

Pakistan usually play their cricket in the heat of the UAE, so cricket in Europe in May will be a big test, especially for their batsmen. They would have been pleased with their batting effort against Northamptonshire, after being rolled for 168 against Kent, but will be tested by an honest Ireland attack in bowling friendly conditions. With conditions the way they are in Dublin, also expect Pakistan’s bowling line up to extract plenty of movement, and give the Irish batsman a tough examination on their Test debut.

Pakistan are favourites, but this match has the makings of a competitive one.

William Porterfield Ireland vs Pakistan
Skipper William Porterfield has credited past Ireland players for reaching this stage.

Key to an Ireland win

No disrespect to Pakistan, but this would be amazing. 
The big question mark for Ireland is how their batsmen will cope against Pakistan’s potent bowling attack, in what promises to be overcast, cold conditions. The top six, expected to be William Porterfield,  Andy Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Paul Stirling, Niall O’Brien and Kevin O’Brien, have 38,672 first class runs between them, and will need to use their experience to the maximum in overcoming the moving ball.

If Ireland get sufficient runs on the board, it will open up the game for their bowlers, who are bound to challenge Pakistan’s batting, the weaker part of their game.

Key to a Pakistan win

Likely debutant Imam ul-Haq has warned against complacency, and right he is. After all, what do Pakistan have to be complacent about?

After claiming the no.1 spot in the rankings after drawing 2-2 in England in 2016, Pakistan have since dropped all the way to 7th, including a disappointing 2-0 home loss to Sri Lanka in their last Test assignment in October last year. Their attempt to climb the rankings begins in Dublin, and their bowling holds the key.

Mohammad Amir bowled 42 overs over the two tour matches, managing just the solitary wicket, including none in 27 overs against Northamptonshire. The other seamers, including Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali and Hasan Ali had a more successful time across the two matches, but Amir remains a huge threat to Ireland, and will hoping catches will be taken off his bowling.

In addition, the form of Shadab Khan, taking 10 wickets against Northamptonshire, and Asad Shafiq (186*) and Haris Sohail (two 50s across two games) will be encouraging. One player who an eye will be kept on is Azhar Ali, who had a lean build up to this Test, but he is one who can anchor the Pakistan innings against what will be an honest Irish attack. Like Ireland, the key for Pakistan is to get runs on the board, and give their bowlers great freedom to express themselves.

Asad Shafiq Ireland vs Pakistan Cricket Blog
Asad Shafiq – key player for Pakistan

Predicted teams

I previously said that Ireland would have loved Test status five or six years ago, as many of their “golden generation” players are well in their 30s. Nonetheless, they’ll be pumped for the occasion. Expect Boyd Rankin and strong Middlesex performer for many years Tim Murtagh to be the two main seamers, with Tyrone Kane, Stuart Thompson or Craig Young making up the third seam option.
Possible Ireland XI: 1. William Porterfield (c), 2. Andy Balbirnie, 3. Ed Joyce, 4. Paul Stirling, 5. Niall O’Brien, 6. Kevin O’Brien, 7. Gary Wilson (wk), 8. Andy McBrine, 9. Tyrone Kane/Stuart Thompson/Craig Young, 10. Tim Murtagh, 11. Boyd Rankin
Former Pakistan captain and chief selector Rashid Latif has spoken out about how Pakistan could struggle against Ireland, and especially England. I agree with him that Fawad Alam should have been picked, on the back of solid domestic performances, and would have been a player who could hold things together in the middle order for Pakistan. Instead, they will go with a number of openers in their XI.
Possible Pakistan XI: 1. Imam-ul Haq, 2. Azhar Ali, 3. Haris Sohail, 4. Asad Shafiq, 5. Babar Azam, 6. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 7. Faheem Ashraf, 8. Shadab Khan, 9. Mohammad Amir, 10. Mohammad Abbas, 11. Hasan Ali/Rahat Ali

Stats and Facts:

  • If Ireland win, they will become just the second nation to win their first Test, after Australia beat England in the first ever Test in 1877.
  • Pakistan have won just two of their past 11 Test matches, and were bowled out for 168 v Kent last week.
  • If Boyd Rankin plays, Ireland won’t have 11 debutants. He played a Test for England vs Australia in 2014.
  • Pakistan know about being on the end of an Ireland upset. They lost to them at the 2007 ODI World Cup.
  • Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail and Babar Azam combined for 323 runs against Northamptonshire.

Prediction

I am really hoping the weather holds throughout the game so we see enough action to get a result. Rain is forecast for most of the match, which is worrying, and is why I will predict a draw.
However, if the weather holds, and there is a result, expect Pakistan to have enough to beat an Ireland team that is sure to make their fans proud of their performance. Rain, please stay away.
Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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