Imam-ul-Haq sees Pakistan to victory over Test debutants Ireland

Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq celebrates after beating Ireland on the final day of Ireland's inaugural Test match against Pakistan in Malahide. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 May 2018
0

Imam-ul-Haq sees Pakistan to victory over Test debutants Ireland

  • Nephew of Inzamam hits his maiden 50 at this level.
  • Pakistan recover from wobble to win by five wickets

DUBLIN: Pakistan debutant Imam-ul-Haq saw his side to victory as Ireland's first match in men's Test cricket ended in a gallant last-day defeat by five wickets at Malahide on Tuesday.
Pakistan, set a seemingly modest 160 to win, after earlier making Ireland follow-on, collapsed to 14 for three before lunch on the fifth day.
But 22-year-old left-handed opener Imam, the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, responded to the pressure with 74 not out — his maiden 50 at this level.
Together with Babar Azam, who made 59 after being dropped on nine, he kept Ireland at bay during a fourth-wicket stand of 126.
Imam hit the winning runs as grey clouds threatening rain hung over Malahide.
Victory was a good way for Pakistan to prepare for the first of a two-Test series against England at Lord's starting on May 24.
Just four balls into their chase, Pakistan saw Azhar Ali edge Tim Murtagh to Paul Stirling at first slip.
Haris Sohail (seven) fell next, well taken in the gully by Ed Joyce off towering fast bowler Boyd Rankin as Ireland's two former England internationals combined.
And 13 for two became 14 for three in 4.3 overs when Middlesex paceman Murtagh produced a superb delivery to bowl Asad Shafiq between bat and pad for one.
Imam, who bats in spectacles, showed a maturity beyond many of his more experienced top-order colleagues.
He struck two fine fours off Stuart Thompson, a square cut followed by a square drive.
Ireland needed to take every chance that came their way but, with Babar yet to add to his interval score, he was dropped in the slips by Andrew Balbirnie.
Imam, having cover driven a four off Rankin, completed a 61-ball fifty with seven boundaries -- the third time he had reached the landmark this tour after half-centuries in warm-up matches against Kent and Northamptonshire.
Babar, cashed in to make a 61-ball fifty.
But with Pakistan 20 runs shy of victory, a mix-up saw Babar run out.
There was still time for Ireland to take a couple more wickets but by then the match had escaped their grasp.
Earlier, Ireland were dismissed for 339 in their second innings.
Kevin O'Brien, who on Monday became the first Ireland batsman to score a Test hundred, fell to his first ball Tuesday as Mohammad Abbas had him caught by Haris at slip for 118.
The Irish, resuming on 319 for seven, saw Abbas then take three wickets for 12 runs in 22 balls, the paceman finishing with an innings haul of five for 66 in 28.3 overs.
Only three sides in the 141-year history of Test cricket had won after being made to follow on and only one men's team -- Australia in the inaugural Test against England at Melbourne in 1877 -- had enjoyed a victory in their debut match at this level.
Ireland were facing an innings defeat when man-of-the-match O'Brien came in at 95 for four but, ably assisted by Stuart Thompson, who made 53, he turned the tide during a seventh-wicket partnership of 114.
But after Tyrone Kane had seen out Tuesday's opening over from Mohammad Amir, who took his 100th Test wicket on Monday, Abbas struck.
O'Brien going down on one knee to attempt a slashing drive off a wide half-volley from Abbas, nicked to Haris.
A crestfallen O'Brien bowed his head in frustration and dropped his bat as he trudged off the field.
But the 34-year-old had every reason to be proud of an innings that spanned five hours, 44 minutes and saw him face 217 balls with 12 fours.


FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Wembley woe is no great NFL advert

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago
0

FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Wembley woe is no great NFL advert

LONDON: Gridiron made its annual hop across the Atlantic to spread the message that American football is for all, not just for those who live west of New York. Here’s what we learned from that excursion and the rest of the action in Week 6.

WEMBLEY WASHOUTS
You have to feel for the legions of British NFL fans. Sunday’s match-up at London’s Wembley Stadium between the Seahawks and the Raiders was a one-sided washout — the sixth game in a row the UK capital played host to a tedious procession for one of the teams. The last decent game in London was the Redskins-Bengals tie in 2016. Considering the whole point of the these games is to spread the game, should these match-ups not be a spectacle for the sport? Are the players taking it easy when away from the glare of scrutiny from their hometown fans and media? Whatever the reason, fans on the other side of the Atlantic
deserve better.

VICTORIOUS VIKINGS
At last, we finally got to see what the Minnesota Vikings are capable of. We always knew they had the weapons capable of winning a game comfortably, and it was pleasing to see the Vikings finally put a team to bed. It was a strong team effort from front-to-back, with sublime performances from key players in an improving defense and an offense, led by Kirk Cousins, putting the Vikings back on track as they head into Week 7 against the New York Jets. They will need the momentum with games against the Saints, Packers and Patriots all to come.

LUCK-LESS COLTS?
How long will Andrew Luck’s happy-go-lucky approach last at the Indianapolis Colts? Having been ruled out of the entire 2017 season after shoulder surgery, his passion and enthusiasm for the game he loves was there for all to see at the beginning of this year. But despite his best efforts in another disappointing defeat — this week 42-34 to the Jets — you have to wonder how long that exuberance will last, forced to carry this extremely poor Colts side and as his Super Bowl dream fades yet again for another year. Or how long will Luck stick with a side that appears to be going backwards since their appearance in the Big Game back in 2010?

THE PUPIL VS. THE MASTER
The Patriots-Chiefs game on Sunday — one of the best games of the season so far — was the perfect metaphor for the old sporting cliche “form is temporary, class is permanent.” The newest kid on the block, Patrick Mahomes, has had the start to a season rookies can only dream of, displaying scintillating form in the opening five weeks of the season. And yet it was Tom Brady, in his 18th season, who came out on top. While his opposite number ducked and dived out of collapsing pockets and threw the ball from side to side
erratically, Brady was a model of calmness under pressure. His final drive saw New England seal the win with a field goal three seconds from time. Classy.