Ireland ready for inaugural Test against Pakistan

Test cricket

Ireland prepare to play against Pakistan at Malahide in Dublin from Friday in what will be a momentous first Test match for a country with a rich tradition of the game.

The European side will become the first to debut in Tests since Bangladesh did so in November 2000 against India, after being awarded Full Member status last June along with Afghanistan.

The match will be Ireland’s first step towards being ranked on the ICC Test Team Rankings while providing their players with the opportunity to make an entry into the individual rankings with strong performances against the seventh-ranked side.

Ireland captain William Porterfield: “It is a massive occasion for everyone involved in Irish cricket., something that we have built up to for a long time, since the decision was made in June 2017 to get across the line in terms of Full Membership. Everyone has been looking forward to this week, so it is a big occasion for all involved.

“For the 11 lads who will take the pitch, it will be a fantastic occasion for them and their families but we have to also remember everything that has gone before in Irish cricket in terms of getting us to this stage, over the years.

“You’ve got a lot of past players – some of them are here with us, some aren’t, but we have to remember and recognise what they have done to get us to this stage because if it wasn’t for them, and everything that they have done, we would not have been lucky enough to be taking the field, come Friday.”

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed: “It is a privilege to be a part of this historic Test match and all of us are really looking forward to it. Ireland, who have a great tradition of cricket, are playing at home and I wish them all the best in this big moment.

“Ireland players feature prominently in the ICC ODI and T20I player rankings, and I am confident that in due course they will also make their mark in the Test rankings.”

Ireland will become the 11th country to play Test cricket

Pakistan will gain one point with a win against Ireland and reach 87 points while a draw will see them slip to 84 and a loss to 81 points. The table is led by India at 125 points with South Africa placed second at 112. Australia (106) and New Zealand (102) are placed third and fourth.

As for the ICC Test Player Rankings, Pakistan opener Azhar Ali will be the top-ranked batsman in in the Dublin Test. Asad Shafiq (joint-25th) and captain Sarfraz Ahmed (32nd) are the others in the top-50 while upcoming left-hander Sami Aslam would be hoping to improve his position of 74th on the table.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah leads Pakistan’s pack of bowlers at 16th position, while fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas (37th) and Mohammad Amir (39th) are the other prominent names in the team for Pakistan, who were top-ranked in Tests in August 2016.

As for Ireland, players like captain William Porterfield and his opening partner Ed Joyce, all-rounders Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien, and fast bowler Tim Murtagh would all be looking to make a fine start to their Test careers, having achieved decent rankings in the shorter formats.

In ODIs, Stirling (35th), Joyce (42nd), Kevin O’Brien (51st) and Porterfield (58th) are the leading batsmen while Murtagh (20th), off-spinner Andy McBrine (42nd), Boyd Rankin (58th) and George Dockrell (63rd) are the leading bowlers.

Joyce, who has also represented England in international cricket, is the most experienced Ireland player in first-class cricket, having played 254 matches, scoring 18,414 runs with 47 centuries. Among bowlers, Murtagh goes in with the considerable experience of having taken 712 wickets in 210 first-class matches.

ICC Test Team Rankings (as of 9 May, before the Ireland-Pakistan Test)

Rank    Team                 Points

1          India                125

2          South Africa    112

3          Australia           106

4          New Zealand   102

5          England           98

6          Sri Lanka         94

7          Pakistan             86

8          Bangladesh     75

9          Windies             67

10        Zimbabwe         2

(Developed by David Kendix)

MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings (as of 9 May, before the Ireland-Pakistan Test):

Batsmen (top 10)

Rank    Player                Team  Pts      Avge     Highest Rating

   1       Steve Smith       Aus       929      61.37    947 v SA at Durban 2018

2       Virat Kohli          Ind        912!     53.40    912 v SA at Johannesburg 2018

3       Joe Root           Eng       867      52.63    917 v Aus at Trent Bridge 2015

4       Kane Williamson NZ        847      50.35    893 v Aus at Perth 2015

5       David Warner     Aus       820      48.20    880 v NZ at Perth 2015

6       AB de Villiers      SA        813      50.66    935 v Aus at Port Elizabeth 2014

7       C. Pujara           Ind        810      50.51    888 v SL at Nagpur 2017

8       Dean Elgar         SA        784!     42.58    784 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

9       Aiden Markram   SA        759*!    55.55    759 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

10       Azhar Ali            Pak       755      46.62    787 v Aus at Melbourne 2016

Other selected rankings

Rank    Player               Team    Pts      Avge     Highest Rating

25=       Asad Shafiq       Pak       617      39.71    758 v Eng at Lord’s 2016

32         Sarfraz Ahmed   Pak       608      40.14    715 v SL at Galle 2015

74         Sami Aslam       Pak       410*     31.58    468 v NZ at Hamilton 2016

Bowlers (top 10)

Rank    Player              Team    Pts      Avge     Highest Rating

1       Kagiso Rabada   SA        897      21.59    902 v Aus at Port Elizabeth 2018

2       James Anderson Eng       891      27.36    896 v Win at Lord’s 2017

3       Vernon Philander SA        845      21.46    912 v Ind at Johannesburg 2013

4       Ravindra Jadeja Ind        844      23.73    899 v Aus at Ranchi 2017

5       R. Ashwin          Ind        803      25.56    904 v Eng at Mumbai 2016

6=      Morne Morkel      SA        800!     27.66    800 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

Pat Cummins     Aus       800*!    23.81    800 v SA at Johannesburg 2018

8       Trent Boult         NZ        795      27.84    825 v Eng at Lord’s 2015

9       Rangana Herath SL        777      28.18    867 v Zim at Harare 2016

10       Neil Wagner       NZ        765      28.26    785 v Win at Wellington 2017

Other selected rankings

Rank    Player                Team   Pts      Avge    Highest Rating

16         Yasir Shah         Pak       704      29.44   878 v Eng at Lord’s 2016

37         M. Abbas           Pak       399*     21.34   409 v SL at Abu Dhabi 2017

39         Mohammad Amir Pak       392*     32.87   658 v Eng at Lord’s 2010

All-rounders (top five)

Rank      Player                         Team    Pts      Highest Rating

1       Shakib Al Hasan Ban       420      489 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

2       Ravindra Jadeja Ind        390      438 v SL at Colombo (SSC) 2017

3       V. Philander       SA        371      376 v Aus at Cape Town 2014

4       R. Ashwin          Ind        367      493 v Eng at Mohali 2016

5       Ben Stokes        Eng       328/*    396 v Win at Lord’s 2017

*indicates provisional rating; a batsman qualifies for a full rating after playing 40 Test innings; a bowler qualifies for a full rating when he reaches 100 Test wickets.

! indicates career-highest rating