Ball drama as Ireland's Test cricket debut finally begins

People shelter from the rain as groundsmen work on the wet pitch at Malahide cricket club in Dublin as the start of play is delayed on the first day of the Test match between Ireland and Pakistan

Former England worldwide Boyd Rankin had the honour of taking their first ever Test wicket, Azhar edging him to second slip.

Murtagh got the full treatment from his team-mates and there was nearly a third wicket next ball, but Stuart Thompson was wide of the stumps where a direct hit would have seen the end of Haris Sohail, who was well out of his crease backing up.

There was drama at a sun-drenched Malahide even before the wickets fell, with Pakistan debutant Imam-ul-Haq injured off the first ball of the match.

But the 22-year-old left-hander, who hit a hundred on his one-day global debut against Sri Lanka last year, has made fifties against both Kent and Northamptonshire in Pakistan's two warm-up matches ahead of this one-off Test.

Azhar Ali faced the first ball of the match from Tim Murtagh and kept out a yorker before calling his opening partner through for a single.

Non-striker Imam, in scrambling to complete the run, found himself sandwiched between wicket-keeper Niall O´Brien and Tyrone Kane in a heavy collision.

The 22-year-old was left flat on the ground and needed several minutes' treatment on the field, but he recovered to face the second ball of the match, with Imam playing and missing.

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"But we don't look at losses on a match by match basis, rather year by year, and for most countries Test cricket, apart from England-Australia which is the obvious exception, is a loss leader, with the majority of money made from white-ball cricket".

Ul-Haq, nephew of legendary Pakistan captain Inzamam, did not appear to suffer too many after-effects although it did take him 16 balls to get off the mark before he drove Murtagh stylishly for four through the off side.

However, it did not take long for Ireland to make a stunning double strike.

Imam was lbw for seven to a Murtagh delivery that came back into him. Cuts and edges fetched them the required runs and helped the visitors reach 67 for 2 at Lunch, with the third wicket-stand remaining undefeated on 54.

Shafiq is the class act of this Pakistan batting line-up and he moved past his half-century and had moved on to 62 before he played a poor pull shot to a short ball from Rankin, with Andrew Balbirnie taking the catch at square leg to leave Pakistan on 153 for five.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (20) was caught by Stirling in the slips off Thompson.

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