Kevin O’Brien’s maiden Test hundred allows Ireland to dream

Ireland 130 and 319 for 7 (Ok O’Brien 118*, Thompson 53, Amir Three-57) lead Pakistan 310 for 9 dec by 139 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Ireland’s rise from World Cup giant-killers to absolutely fledged Test nation has featured a band of acquainted faces, few extra recognisable than that of Kevin O’Brien. From Sabina Park 2007, when he was within the center to assist seal victory over Pakistan, to Bangalore 2011, when his 50-ball hundred (and pink dye job) slayed England, O’Brien has been on the centre of Ireland’s story. Now he’s the primary Irishman to rating a Test hundred.

This time the hair was a extra pure, russet color, as O’Brien eliminated his helmet to soak within the applause at Malahide. Having been made to comply with on 180 runs behind, many would have written off Ireland’s probabilities of taking the sport into day 5; as a substitute, they may resume their second innings with a lead of 139 and the prospect of giving Pakistan an ungainly run chase – on the very least.

A thick exterior edge by way of level off Mohammad Amir introduced O’Brien to a milestone that held significance far past the private. Amir’s three wickets earlier within the day had put Pakistan right into a place from which an innings win appeared fully attainable – even possible – however O’Brien and Stuart Thompson mixed for a 114-run rearguard that not solely pushed Ireland in entrance and burnished native satisfaction, however allowed them to sleep on the potential of one other well-known upset.

It took a ripping supply from legspinner Shadab Khan to take away Thompson, bowled enjoying again because the ball lurched from the tough exterior off stump, however No. 9 Tyrone Kane then dug in stoically for an hour and a half for eight off 67 balls to frustrate Pakistan additional.

Having taken 4 wickets in brisk trend throughout the morning, after which a pair extra after lunch, Pakistan’s seamers went flat because the day wore on. Thompson was dropped on 6 off the bowling of Rahat Ali, a low edge to Sarfraz Ahmed’s left, however was largely untroubled in recording a maiden Test half-century that was marked by rising confidence. Rahat was notably innocuous and Thompson’s thump for 4 to carry up fifty and the century stand with O’Brien summed up the shift in fortunes.

As within the first innings, when he top-scored with 40, O’Brien was an assured presence on the crease, his bat seemingly as extensive as St James’s Gate, temperament as dependable because the stout Dublin is most well-known for. Quite than booming drives and pulls, he performed softly and watchfully, gliding a number of boundaries by way of third man or off his pads. A faucet by way of mid-on secured him fifty, one other first for Ireland in Exams.

The spirit epitomised by Gary Wilson’s first-innings resistance, batting at No. 9 with an damage, and the opening stand second time in between Ed Joyce and William Porterfield coursed by way of the Irish effort. Whereas Amir bowled by way of the ache of a knee downside, Shadab discovered flip and Mohammad Abbas continued his penetrative begin to life as a Test cricketer, Pakistan grew to become more and more anguished.

A thick edge by way of vacant second slip within the penultimate over of the day introduced a scream of annoyance from Amir, as a weary O’Brien stared blankly down the pitch. O’Brien got here shut to enjoying on and being lbw to Abbas within the subsequent over however there was no succour for Pakistan.

Such an final result appeared unlikely after an eventful morning session, by which Ireland prolonged their opening stand to 69 earlier than Joyce was run out by a direct hit from Faheem Ashraf at mid-on. In a match that has seen loads of dodgy operating, Joyce was maybe unfortunate to be the one man run out (up to now); he ended up fractionally quick after calling a decent single, with Ashraf’s throw aiming at one stump doing simply sufficient to dislodge the bails.

That gave Pakistan a gap, which they rapidly exploited. Andy Balbirnie made an undesirable form of historical past when he was hit on the pads and given lbw in opposition to Abbas for the second time within the match, changing into the primary Ireland batsman to register a Test pair. Eager to keep away from an identical destiny, Niall O’Brien’s first run got here through a dangerous single that left him on his knees sporting a wry grin and muddy sweater.

The elder O’Brien made it into double-figures earlier than being detonated from the crease by Amir, who flattened the stumps with a supply that reversed in to the left-hander. William Porterfield, who laboured for 120 balls over his 32, was given a torrid time throughout Amir’s preliminary seven-over spell and ultimately succumbed to a depraved outswinger that Sarfraz held on to.

Ireland at that stage have been 95 for four, nonetheless 85 from placing Pakistan in for a second time. Paul Stirling was lbw shortly after lunch, Abbas finding his pad fractionally earlier than bat got here into play, and when Wilson was caught slip off Amir it was 157 for six and the end result all however sure. Then Kevin O’Brien’s scriptwriter intervened once more.

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