It will be a momentous day in Irish cricket on Friday as the Ireland side embark on their first ever Test match after a lengthy wait. They play host to Pakistan in Dublin in a match which begins a new era in cricket.
Ireland have been regulars on the global scene in limited overs cricket for a while but this will be their first appearance in the longest format of the game. Pakistan may have had the idea of using this as a warm up for the England series but they need to be on it to avoid a major upset.
This is a huge occasion for Ireland cricket so it will be interesting to see if their players can handle the magnitude of it. If they can then you would think they have every chance of being competitive at the very least. They should have conditions for their seamers to profit in while their batting looks to have the experience required to do well.
The one thing Ireland must make sure they can do is play for the entirety of the match. With the minnows if we should call them that, we often see them competitive for a couple of days or the first innings or so but then the longer these matches go they struggle to maintain their levels and ultimately end up being well beaten.
You never truly know even now which Pakistan will turn up. In their own conditions they are probably more reliable but they should be effective over in these conditions too. They have a wonderful array of seamers at their disposal and a top class spinner and you can never go too far wrong with that combination.
The unknown comes in the form of their batting although to be fair in the longer format of the game they have a couple of truly top class players in Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq but if those two fall cheaply there is no longer the likes of Younis Khan or Misbah-ul-Haq to bail them out of danger. If they are bang on it they should be fine here. If they are not they could have issues.
All eyes will be on the Ireland line up when it is named given the historic nature of this contest. Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh are likely to carry the attack while veteran batsmen Ed Joyce, William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien are all expected to play.
Imam-ul-Haq is expected to make his Test debut and partner Azhar Ali at the top of the order. Faheem Ashraf is likely to get the fourth seamer spot while Leicestershire paceman Mohammad Abbas could feature for Pakistan too.
There is a little bit of rain around for the first couple of days so I’m going to leave the match result alone initially in the hope that Pakistan drift a little bit and we can get on at an even bigger price than we currently can.
I will go with one bet before the off though which comes in the form of a player performance. Shadab Khan had a decent match against Northamptonshire last weekend. He took 10 wickets in that match and even in seaming conditions I expect him to take wickets here because lesser sides who aren’t used to facing top quality wrist spin usually succumb to it especially lower down the order. He has a performance line of 85.5pts which he may well cover with wickets alone but he’s a decent enough batsman in his own right. I expect him to cover that over the course of this match.
WON – Back S.Khan’s Performance – Over 85.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365