ICC confirms Ireland to play historic first test against Pakistan


– Porterfield looking to repeat 2007


After continued speculation and near confirmations, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has finally announced that Ireland will play their first Test match against Pakistan in May 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

Cricket Ireland announced on Thursday, that it had been finalised that the nation’s first ever 5-day game would be played against Pakistan at home. The decision was made after the two cricket boards reached a decision at an ICC meeting in Auckland this week.

Both Ireland and Afghanistan had been given full member status earlier this year, paving their way to play the longest format of the game. Initially, a two-tier system of cricket league’s had been proposed to ease the two sides into the Test cricket, to avoid a Bangladesh like disaster, but now it seems that Ireland has decided to jump in and play Pakistan as their first Test opponents.

“We are excited to welcome Pakistan to Ireland for our inaugural Test match next year,” Warren Deutrom, the Cricket Ireland CEO, has been quoted as saying by cricketireland.ie. “It has been our wish to make our Test debut in front of our own fans within 12 months of becoming a Test nation, and against a big team, so I’m delighted.

“There is a lot of work to do from now to ensure that it will be an occasion to remember but we, and I’m sure our players and fans, can’t wait to rise to it.

“We would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) most sincerely for agreeing to be our first opponent in Test cricket,” Deutrom added. “The Pakistan team has been a regular visitor to our shores in recent years, and their agreement to be our opponent on this important occasion for Irish cricket is further evidence of their terrific support.”

While Ireland is still to have their Test debut and Pakistan has an upper hand of more than half a century in experience, the single game could prove a challenging one for Pakistan. While still eight months away, it is still to be seen whether Sarfaraz Ahmed will have been able to build Pakistan up once again. Given their jitters against Sri Lanka which resulted in a whitewash, the team has a lot of thinking to do.

Other than this, the match will also be on Ireland’s home ground where they are particularly strong and have given Pakistan trouble in the past. With the chilly European conditions and a nervy Pakistan squad, Ireland might just be looking towards making a dream entry on cricket’s most prestigious stage.

For Pakistan, unless they improve drastically in the months to come, there is no doubt that the match will be a major focal point that could show cricket fans the team’s general trajectory for many years to come.

Besides, with Misbahul  Haq’s calming presence gone, Pakistan might look to take up the mantle of most unpredictable team once more, something equally foreboding as it is exciting. One is also reminded of the monumental defeat of Pakistan at the hands of Ireland at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, a point often called the turning point for Ireland Cricket.

Ireland skipper William Porterfield was not hesitant to mention the game either in his response to the announcement.

“There’s a special affinity between ourselves and Pakistan going back to the 2007 World Cup (when Ireland defeated Pakistan to knock it out of the group stage) and they’ve been regular tourists here over the past decade.

“Test cricket is the pinnacle of our sport and I know how much this game will mean to not only the players but all involved with Irish cricket,” he went on. “It’ll be another step on what has been an incredible journey for our sport in a relatively short passage of time.

While the news is certainly a major moment for Ireland, it will be quite significant for Pakistan as well.