Dublin: Ireland’s bid for an unlikely victory in their inaugural Test came up short as debutant Imam-ul-Haq steered Pakistan out of trouble and to a five-wicket win on the final day on Tuesday.
Chasing 160 to win, Pakistan slumped to 14-3 and looked in real danger of becoming just the fourth team to lose a Test after enforcing the follow-on.
Imam showed his maturity and class to guide the tourists away from danger, scoring the winning runs to finish on 74 not out as Pakistan reached 160-5 just before tea. It justified his call-up by Pakistan’s chief selector, his uncle and former Test captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Imam shared a vital 126-run stand with Babar Azam (59) for the fourth wicket.
The Irish can be proud of taking Pakistan all the way in their first match in cricket’s longest format after being awarded Test status last June, especially having been bundled out for 130 in their first innings.
“The 200 mark would have made it close,” said Ireland captain William Porterfield. “But full credit to the boys, if we’d been able to break that partnership earlier it could have been close. We had 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.”
Porterfield’s opposite number, Sarfraz Ahmad, added: “Batting is very difficult here so it 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.”
Resuming on Tuesday on 319-7 in their second innings after being asked to follow on, they added only 20 runs to their total but still left a challenging target for a Pakistan team that have a recent history of stumbling in small run chases.
And when Pakistan lost three wickets — two to paceman Tim Murtagh — in the opening 27 balls of the reply, Ireland had a strong chance of becoming the first team to win their maiden Test — after Australia against England in 1877 in cricket’s first Test.
Imam held his nerve, hitting eight fours in a 121-ball knock.
Babar, who was dropped on 9, was run out 20 runs short of the target.
Earlier, Mohammad Abbas, benefiting from plenty of swing movement in overcast conditions, took the final three wickets of Ireland’s second innings, including century-maker Kevin O’Brien. Resuming on 118, O’Brien slashed at the first ball he faced on Tuesday — a wide one from Abbas — and edged to first slip.
Abbas also took the wickets of Boyd Rankin (6) and Tyrone Kane (14), who were both bowled, to finish with figures of 5-66. He had nine wickets for the match.
Pakistan now head to England for a two-Test series, starting next week at Lord’s.
Ireland do not play another Test this summer as they ease into life in the longer format. India visit for two Twenty20s next month.
Only three teams have won a Test after following on — England in 1894 and 1981, and India in 2001. Australia was the opponent on each occasion.
Pakistan 1st innings: 310-9 declared
Ireland 1st innings: 130
Ireland 2nd innings (Overnight 319-7)
Ed Joyce run out 43
W. Porterfield c Ahmed b Amir 32
A. Balbirnie lbw b Abbas 0
N. O’Brien b Amir 18
P. Stirling lbw b Abbas 11
K. O’Brien c Sohail b Abbas 118
G. Wilson c Sohail 12
S. Thompson b Khan 53
T. Kane b Abbas 14
B. Rankin b Abbas 6
T. Murtagh not out 5
Extras: (1b, 20lb, 2nb, 4w) 27
Total: (all out) 339
Fall of wickets: 1-69, 2-69, 3-94, 4-95, 5-127, 6-157, 7-271, 8-321, 9-332, 10-339
Bowling: Amir 29.2-9-63-3, Abbas 28.3-10-66-5, Rahat 23-3-75-0, Ashraf 18-3-51-0, Shadab 30.4-7-63-1.
Pakistan 2nd innings
A. Ali c Stirling b Murtagh 2
Imam-ul-Haq not out 74
H. Sohail c Joyce b Rankin 7
A. Shafiq b Murtagh 1
B. Azam run out 59
S. Ahmad lbw b Thompson 8
Shadab Khan not out 4
Extras: (5nb) 5
TOTAL: (for 5 wickets) 160
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-13, 3-14, 4-140, 5-152
Bowling: Murtagh 16-3-55-2, Rankin 12-1-57-1, Thompson 11-4-31-1, Kane 6-1-17-0