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Ireland set Pakistan victory target of 160

18 May 2018
Ireland set Pakistan victory target of 160

But that hardly begins to tell the story of Malahide.

Left-handed opener Imam-ul-Haq - like all of Ireland's XI, bar Boyd Rankin, playing his first Test - and Babar Azam guided Pakistan towards an eventually comfortable five-wicket victory but the tourists' pursuit of the 160-run target had not been straight-forward.

Ireland showed some excellent temperament with the bat in the second innings after following-on, as they ended day four of the Dublin Test with a score of 319 for 7.

Pakistan, haunted by recent failures when set a small-but-testing target, knew they were being set up as the falls guys.

Anxious and very aware, no doubt, of Ireland's still precarious position in their quest to secure a positive result from their maiden Test voyage, O'Brien was keen to follow on from his epic performance from Day 4 as he re-entered the fray alongside Tyrone Kane first thing on the final morning.

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested after stumps on Sunday that Amir's lengthy time away from the game allied to the fact he had been involved in all three worldwide formats-Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20s-since coming back had taken a toll on the swing bowler.

Instead, the youngsters stood up.

Ireland gained another wicket to keep their hopes alive through Andrew Balbirnie, outing Babar Azam for 59 - bringing the game to 140-4 with Pakistan needing 20 to win. Azam equally provided an outstanding display also reaching the half-century mark, as his 52 added to Pakistan's tally, now at 128-3.

Pakistan, understandably enough, have been struggling to replace the likes of retired veteran batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. His ODI batting average is 51.11; going into this match, he averaged less than half of that from 11 Tests.

Babar was dropped on nine runs in the 19th over when Balbirnie could not hold a catchable chance and the right-hander immediately made Ireland pay by thumping two of his next four deliveries through the covers for boundaries.

Pakistan were reeling after losing three wickets inside five overs and their skipper feared another morale-sapping loss was at hand.

Pakistan enforced the follow on for the first time since 2002 in a Test match but Ireland made a better fist of dealing with the new ball second time around and were 64-0 at stumps.

Ireland arrived at the ground in the morning knowing that plenty needed to go their way if the "Miracle of Malahide" was to be fully realised. "First hundred in 7 years, well overdue".

For a while, it seemed Ireland might rewrite the record books on two fronts in becoming only the fourth side to win a Test after following-on and just the second in the 141-year history of the format, following Australia's defeat of England in the inaugural 1877 Test at Melbourne, to win their debut match.