Imam takes Pakistan over the line after Irish scare

Imam ul-Haq and Babar Azam scored half-centuries as Pakistan beat Ireland by five wickets in what was the European side’s first ever Test match in Malahide.

Chasing a tricky target of 160, Pakistan got off to a disastrous start as they slipped to 14/3 as Azhar Ali (2), Haris Sohail (7) and Asad Shafiq(1) fell cheaply.

Ireland seamer Tim Murtagh got Azhar to edge into the slips before Boyd Rankin had Sohail slashing straight to gully.

Murtagh then bowled Shafiq to give Ireland hope of a remarkable victory in their inaugural Test.

Imam and Barbar however knuckled down and dented Ireland’s opening spell as the visitors went to lunch on 52/3.

The Pakistan duo came out full of attacking intent after the interval, going to their half-centuries in relatively quick time.

The pair added 126 for the fourth wicket to take the Asian side to within 20 runs of victory before Babar was run-out for 59 after mix up with his partner.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (8) also lost his wicket but Imam took his team over line with an unbeaten 74 to give Pakistan a major boos ahead of their two Tests against England starting next week.

Earlier, the home team will have been disappointed to be bowled out for 339 after resuming on their overnight score of 318/7.

Hero of the fourth day, and Ireland’s first ever centurion in Test cricket, Kevin O’Brien did not add anything to his overnight score as he was out caught in the slips for 118 off seamer Mohammad Abbas.

Abbas took his second five-wicket haul in Test cricket, in his sixth game, to finish with figures of 5-66 in 28.3 overs.

It was Ireland’s first innings with the bat, when they only scored 130 in reply to Pakistan’s 310/9, that put them on the back foot as they were forced to follow-on.

However, the hosts will be happy at the way they fought back to show they belong on cricket’s biggest stage.