Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Ireland put up a valiant fight on the final day of their Test debut in Dublin, but Pakistan debutant Imam-ul-Haq’s mature knock of 74 not out helped his side triumph by five wickets.
Imam was well supported by Babar Azam, who scored an excellent 59.
Starting off the day on 319/7, Ireland only added two runs to their overnight score before they were dealt a massive blow as Kevin O’Brien, who made his maiden Test century and Ireland’s first-ever Test hundred, was dismissed by Mohammad Abbas for 118, which came off 217 balls and included 12 boundaries.
Boyd Rankin fell shortly after for six runs before Ireland were bowled out for 339, which set Pakistan a target of 160 to win, when Tyrone Kane was clean bowled by Abbas for 14.
Abbas was the pick of the bowlers with five wickets, while Mohammad Amir took three and Shadab Khan chipped in with one.
Chasing 160 to win, Pakistan got off to a horrendous start as opener Azhar Ali was caught by Paul Stirling at first slip off the bowling of Tim Murtagh for two runs on the fourth ball of the innings.
Haris Sohail only scored seven runs before he was sent packing by Rankin.
Things went from bad to worse for the tourists as Asad Shafiq was cleaned up by Murtagh for one run.
With Pakistan reeling at 14/3, Imam and Azam stabilised the innings with a 126-run partnership, during which both batsmen surpassed their half-centuries.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
However, Azam’s time at the crease came to an end when he was run out by Andy Balbirnie for 59, which came off 114 balls and included eight boundaries.
Even though Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed fell shortly after, Imam ensured the tourists got across the line as he finished unbeaten on 74, which came off 121 deliveries and included eight boundaries.
Murtagh was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Rankin and Stuart Thompson claimed one wicket each.
Ireland captain William Porterfield was disappointed to have lost, and said: “The 200 mark would have made it close, but full credit to the boys, if we’d been able to break that partnership earlier it could have been close. We had a hell of a lot of good things coming out of the game.
“I couldn’t have asked any more of the bowlers, we’d have liked to have the opportunity to bat that first innings again, but we showed character, and brought that into our first Test.”
Sarfraz was thrilled to have won, and said: “Batting is very difficult here so a great knock from Imam and Babar. We dropped a couple of catches but if we’d taken them… they made a good partnership, but credit to my bowlers and my batsmen.”
O’Brien was named Man of the Match, and said: “I think a slightly better morning for us and we could have pushed Pakistan even harder. I struggled the most this morning trying to forget about yesterday, it was mentally draining.
“I just played the situation where we needed to stick in and dig around. I’m renowned for slogging the ball into the stands but I reined myself in a little bit!”