Imam revives Pakistan after top-order collapse



Ireland made a promising start after asking Pakistan to chase 160 © Getty

A dramatic first hour of play on the final day, which witnessed six wickets fall, was followed by a more sedate period that saw Pakistan go into the Lunch break at 52 for 3 in their 160-run chase in Malahide on Tuesday.

Action started early on Day 5, with centurion Kevin O’Brien chasing a wide delivery outside off to give an easy catch Haris Sohail off his first ball of the day. It came soon after his overnight batting partner Tryone Kane had added a couple of runs to take their eighth wicket partnership past the fifty-run mark.

Ireland managed to add only 18 runs from thereon, before being bowled out for 339. Boyd Rankin and Tyrone Kane inside edged Abbas’s incoming deliveries on to the stumps to hand the pacer his second Test fifer. Abbas finished with nine wickets in the match.

However, Pakistan’s joy was short-lived as a sharp spell of bowling by the Irish new-ball pair of Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin had them struggling at 14 for 3. Azhar Ali was drawn in to a shot only for the ball to move away slightly and take the outside edge of his bat and go to Paul Stirling at slip. Haris Sohail poked at an away going delivery by Rankin to the fifth slip where Ed Joyce took a fine low catch. And soon, Asad Shafiq was castled by an incoming delivery by Murtagh.

The cloud cover was dark for a brief period of time and aided the swing bowlers. However, the decision to bowl the pacers for an 11-over spell proved counter-productive as they became less probing with time, and erred in their lines time and again. While Babar Azam never looked settled, Imam-ul-Haq was quick to pounce on the loose deliveries. And quietly, the pair helped Pakistan past the 50-run mark before the first interval of the day.

Given Pakistan’s tendency to panic in small run-chases in recent times, the game is still open, and the threat of scattered showers still loom large. As it stands, Pakistan need 108 runs to win in two remaining sessions.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 310/9 decl. (Faheem Ashraf 83, Asad Shafiq 62; Tim Murtagh 4-45, Stuart Thompson 3-62) & 52/3 (Imam-ul-Haq 33*; Tim Murtagh 2-27) trail Ireland 130 (Kevin O’Brien 40; Mohammad Abbas 3-44, Shadab Khan 3-31) & 339 (Kevin O’Brien 118, Stuart Thompson 53; Mohammad Abbas 5-66, Mohammad Amir 3-63) by 107 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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