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Despite giving a great account of themselves, Ireland’s maiden Test ended in defeat as Pakistan clinched a five-wicket victory on the final day at Malahide in Dublin.

Resuming Day Five on their overnight score of 319-7, Ireland added 20 more runs to their total in the second-innings before being bowled out. Ireland’s first-ever Test centurion Kevin O’Brien was dismissed off the very first ball he faced on Tuesday for a well made 118.

Set a target of 160 to win in the final innings, Pakistan overcame early jitters to claim a comfortable victory in the end.

Here, we look at the key talking points from the clash.

IRELAND’S BOWLERS GIVE ROARING START

Given Pakistan’s propensity to collapse on the final day of a Test, the Irish had their tails up as they set the visitors a tricky target of 160. Soon, the home fans at Malahide were celebrating as Ireland’s pacers tore through Pakistan’s top-order.

Medium-pacer Tim Murtagh gave the hosts the perfect start in the second innings as he had Azhar Ali edging to Paul Stirling at first-slip in the very first over of Pakistan’s chase. Three overs later, when Haris Sohail was caught by Ed Joyce at gully off the bowling of Boyd Rankin, the Irish camp was buzzing.

Just six deliveries later, the fans went wild as Murtagh castled Asad Shaif with a lovely in-swinger to reduce Pakistan to 14-3.

Murtagh gave Ireland a flying start with the ball on the final day.

AZAM MAKES MOST OF REPRIEVE

Despite his undeniable ODI credentials, Babar Azam’s Test career so far has left a lot to be desired. After Ireland’s roaring start with the ball on the final day, Azam got together with Imam-ul-Haq to take the visitors to 52-3 at lunch.

Things could have gone awry for Azam shortly after lunch though as Murtagh found the outside edge off his bat with a gentle out-swinger. Unfortunately for Ireland, Andy Balbirnie failed to grab on to a relatively simple catch at third-slip to give Pakistan a huge reprieve. That proved to be the game ultimately as Azam went on to notch up only his fifth Test half-century in 24 innings while forming a match-winning partnership with Imam-ul-Haq.

The 23-year-old was the fourth Pakistan wicket to fall in the end after a big-mix up with Imam resulted in a run-out. By then, Azam had scored 59 and ended any hopes of a Ireland victory.

Babar Azam dropped (his) 1st ball after lunch. This graphic, of how often he has fallen just before or after a break. pic.twitter.com/xyczEdYcz6

— Osman Samiuddin (@OsmanSamiuddin) May 15, 2018

IMAM-UL-HAQ SHINES ON TEST DEBUT

The nephew of Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imam’s introduction to the Pakistan team in the ODI format resulted in a fine century against Sri Lanka on debut last year.  Having been handed his Test debut at Dublin, the left-handed opener’s first innings had been eventful but short-lived.

He made up for it with a composed unbeaten half-century in the second innings to steer Pakistan to victory. Imam lived dangerously at the start as some edges flew through the vacant gully region but he did not lose his composure as the top-order around him collapsed.

His mix-up with Azam which resulted in a run-out had shades of his uncle’s infamous running between the wickets but nevertheless, the opener’s solid showing is a very promising sign for Pakistan cricket.

Imam-ul-Haq made it a debut Test to remember.



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