Pakistan collapse gives Ireland hope of remarkable Test victory

  • Pakistan collapse gives Ireland hope of remarkable Test victory

Pakistan collapse gives Ireland hope of remarkable Test victory

Pakistan struggled to complete a relatively modest run-chase against Sri Lanka past year and a furious bowling spell from Ireland's seamers sent a thrill of expectation around the ground.

O'Brien was well supported by Stuart Thompson, who made a hard-fought 53, as Ireland managed to forge a 139-run lead.

Ireland will, naturally, look back on their first innings when they were bowled out for 130 as the key passage of play in the Test and ultimately that's what lost them the game, particularly when you consider how well they performed either side of the batting collapse. They proved the doubters wrong and have gained respect in the cricket-sphere.

But after lunch Amir, in his 31st match at this level, took his 100th Test wicket when Gary Wilson was held in the slips by Haris Sohail to leave Ireland struggling at 157 for six.

O'Brien and Tyrone Kane kept the runs flowing with an unbeaten 48-run partnership, the majority of which was dominated by O'Brien, before stumps was called.

The Irishman joins three others in having achieved a century in his country's first Test; Charles Bannerman of Australia, Dave Houghton of Zimbabwe and Animul Islam of Bangladesh are the others.

However, Ed Joyce (43) was the first to go this morning, run out by Faheem Ashraf, before Andrew Balbirnie fell lbw to Mohammad Abbas for the second time in the match. It was a let-off that Pakistan capitalised on and to go with ducks in both innings it completed a miserable game for Balbirnie.

Regardless of the result, this is one of the most historic days in cricket history and although they might not have won the match, they've won the hearts of cricket fans around the world.

The third-wicket partnership had only got to 25 when O'Brien was bowled, playing across the line to Amir, and when Porterfield followed for the addition of only one more run, a good diving catch to his left by the keeper, Ireland were 95-4. Ireland weren't going down without a fight.

Imam-ul-Haq steadied the innings and was on 33 not out at the end of the first session. Thompson nailed a pull shot through midwicket to bring up his fifty after the break as Irish fans dared to dream. Murtagh stepped up with two wickets to his name, Azhar Alin was out for 2 off the fourth ball, leaving the game well and truly on. Azam equally provided an outstanding display also reaching the half-century mark, as his 52 added to Pakistan's tally, now at 128-3.

Pakistan now have a two-day warm-up match against Leicestershire this weekend before facing England in the first of a two-Test series at Lord´s starting on May 24.

"Hopefully in the next week or two there's going to be hundreds of little kids aspiring to be Kevin O'Brien in backstreet cricket", the Irish captain said. The entire crowd rose to applaud a beaming O'Brien - the chief catalyst of an unlikely comeback. He represented England in ODIs, T20Is and Tests in the 2013-2014. Let's bask in and review Ireland's, and particularly O'Brien's, greatest day - I believe better than the World Cup win, because this was unknown territory for the Irish.