Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq set for Test debut against Ireland

Ireland famously knocked Pakistan out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 Ireland famously knocked Pakistan out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007
Tamara Craig | 11 May, 2018, 04:39

"Ireland players feature prominently in the ICC ODI and T20 player rankings, and I am confident that in due course they will also make their mark in the Test rankings", added Sarfraz. He debuted in the third ODI in Abu Dhabi and anchored a successful run-chase, cracking his maiden worldwide ton while at it. Imam has played four ODIs so far, scoring 149 runs at a strike rate of 73.4 and an average of 49.67, his highest score being the 100 he scored on debut.

Imam, whose place in the squad ahead of Fawad Alam was questioned, has looked in fine touch - with the scores of 61, 11 and 59* - in the two practice matches that Pakistan have played against Northamptonshire and Kent. The side has lost a vast swathe of experience since then - most obviously Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, but they are now also without Yasir Shah, who played a crucial role in both victories in 2016. "While not comparing the two bowlers we have come up against a very good legspinner [Rashid] over the last couple of years and we're going to get that again this week". "I'm very hopeful that I'll do well in the series".

"We have already decided, we will play the same team that played against Northamptonshire", said Sarfraz.

But with Ed Joyce averaging almost 100, Ireland reached the 2005 qualifying final, earned ODI status, and went to the 2007 World Cup under coach Adrian Birrell and upset Pakistan in Kingston. "You've got a lot of past players - some of them are here with us, some aren't, but we have to remember and recognise what they have done to get us to this stage because if it wasn't for them, and everything that they have done, we would not have been lucky enough to be taking the field, come Friday".

Chris Paul makes a conference final
Game 6 of that series, if necessary, would be Friday in Philadelphia, with a potential Game 7 scheduled for Sunday back in Boston. This one is going to be a tough, uphill battle but you know the series victor is likely a heavy favorite in the NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, Sarfraz added Pakistan were honoured to be the Ireland men's team's first opponents at Test level.

"We know how big an occasion it will be and what Test cricket means to every nation", said Porterfield. "We would love to play Ireland in Pakistan". Fans who have supported the Irish team in the shorter formats of the game will turn out in force to watch this historic occasion.

"Administrators can now plan not 6-12 months in advance but three years, with what kind of fixtures we will get and what kind of format we play". Pakistan will take being part of history here, but the Test will also double as crucial preparation for their two-Test series in England later in May and June. It will be Imam's first Test match, and apart from the pressure of playing his debut Test, eyes will be on him because of the reputation of his uncle, Inzamam, one of the stalwarts of Pakistan cricket in his time.

"We've been working hard, as a subcontinent nation it's difficult to perform over here in England and Ireland".

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