Ireland off to flying start as inaugural Test gets underway at last

Dublin (AFP) –


Ireland took two wickets in two balls as their inaugural men's Test finally got going at Malahide on Saturday.

Pakistan were reduced to 13 for two, with Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh the successful bowlers.

But Pakistan, sent into bat by Ireland captain William Porterfield after rain washed out Friday's opening day, recovered to 67 for two at lunch on Saturday's second day.

Haris Sohail was 28 not out and Asad Shafiq 22 not out.

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.

Azhar Ali dug out a Murtagh delivery and called for a quick legside 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.

Imam, the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, scored a hundred on his one-day international debut against Sri Lanka last year.

The left-hander, who came into this match following fifties in Pakistan's two warm-up fixtures, against Kent and Northamptonshire, square-drove Murtagh for a stylish four.

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

Rankin, who had taken one wicket in his lone Test appearance for England against Australia at Sydney in 2014 before switching allegiance, had the honour of claiming Ireland's maiden scalp at this level when an uncertain Azhar (four) edged to Porterfield at second slip.

That left Pakistan 13 for one off the last ball of the eighth over.

Barely had the crowd's cheers subsided, then Pakistan were 13 for two off the very next ball.

Imam was lbw for seven to a Murtagh delivery that came back into him.

At lunch, Rankin had impressive figures of one wicket for seven runs in seven overs, with Murtagh -- one for 12 in seven -- only marginally more expensive.

Haris would have been run out if Stuart Thompson's throw at the stumps had hit, but Pakistan's third-wicket pair eventually started to settle in.

Shafiq square-cut Kane for four, with left-hander Haris glancing Thompson for a legside boundary.