Ireland vs Pakistan: One-Off Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Ireland make their long-awaited Test debut against Pakistan in Dublin on Friday 11 May. 

Ireland fought long and hard to eventually be given Test status - and are now under pressure to justify the decision with a competitive debut performance against one of the more unpredictable bigger nations.

Pakistan have to avoid a potential banana peel before an admittedly stauncher challenge - two Tests against England - later this month. They haven't played Test cricket since October 2017, so might be a bit rusty.

Ireland v Pakistan | 11 May - 15 April | The Village, Malahide, Dublin | 12:00

To Win Match
Ireland 15/2
Draw 24/10
Pakistan 5/10

Judgement of Ireland, who have slayed a few giants in ODI and T20I cricket, will be swift and thorough in the longest format of the international game. If they are not to win or force a draw, they must ensure the match spans five days, unless Pakistan's inadequacies cut it to four or less. Captain William Porterfield and company, of course, will want nothing less than victory.

They did, historically and memorably, beat Pakistan in an ODI during the 2007 World Cup. Porterfield and Boyd Rankin were around for that famous win - and have, very belatedly, been rewarded with graduation to the biggest stage for their country of birth. This is not Rankin's first rodeo, though. He has played an Ashes Test for England.

The Irish squad has ample first-class experience, but the contributions of county cricketers Porterfield, Rankin, Kevin O'Brien, Tim Murtagh, Ed Joyce, Gary Wilson and Paul Stirling will be the most telling. On a batting front, Porterfield, Joyce and Stirling have to be prepared to dig in for the long haul, while extended spells await Rankin and Murtagh.

With George Dockrell omitted from the squad, the jury is still out on whether or not Ireland will play a specialist spinner at a pace-friendly venue. If they do, Andy McBrine will probably be preferred to James Shannon. Either way, the slow bowler have his work cut out for him against a Pakistan order brought up against quality spin bowling.

Pakistan's last Test series was six months ago, when they lost to Sri Lanka. They've been involved in a string of limited-overs affairs since, with mixed results, but now is the time to turn their attention to the difficulties posed by Ireland before fixing their focus on facing England for a couple more Tests.

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed has prematurely labelled the current squad the 'best of the best', while batsman Imam-ul-Haq has led the chorus of voices canvassing the tourists not to underestimate Ireland. Mohammad Amir's arrival, meanwhile, was delayed by visa issues. Pakistan, indeed, haven't tried to stave off the pressure where possible off the field. Now, they have to make it count on the oval.

With Wahab Riaz, Shan Masood and Yasir Shah left out of the squad, Imam, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Usman Salahuddin, Saad Ali and Rahat Ali have been drafted in. That's a lot of promise and potential waiting to deliver big runs and important wickets. As always, which Pakistan - dominant and disciplined or fragile and faltering - rocks up remains to be seen.

They were given good workouts by Kent and Northamptonshire - and will be playing at a ground expected to produce plenty of bounce and carry, so the characteristic selection of two specialist spinners might take a back seat to the need for an additional seamer. Amir, naturally, will need to spearhead the lot - and find the form he enjoyed in the United Kingdom, many years back.

Verdict: Pakistan 5/10
One's heart wants to back Ireland for a win here, but one's head insists otherwise. Pakistan should take this, comfortably, as the Irish only start to negotiate the longer game.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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