Malahide (Dublin) May 15 (IANS) Ireland started their Test journey with a five-wicket loss to Pakistan, who rode on sedate knocks from debutant Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam to eventually romp home without much hiccups on the final day of the historic Test here on Tuesday.
Chasing 160, Imam (74 not out) and Azam (59) forged a crucial partnership to guide Pakistan to a comfortable victory after the visitors had slipped to 14/3.
Ireland had added just 20 to their overnight 319/7, with centurion Kevin O’Brien failing to add anything to the magnificent 118 he compiled on the fourth day.
Kevin fell to the first ball he faced on the fifth morning, caught at slip off Mohammad Abbas while going for a booming drive.
With Pakistan requiring 160 to win, Ireland sensed the possibility of a sensational victory, quickly reducing their opponents to 14/3.
Tim Murtagh made the new ball talk to have Azhar Ali caught at slip and then clean bowled Asad Shafiq, while Boyd Rankin had Haris Sohail caught in the gully.
For all that early excitement though, Pakistan gradually took the game away from Ireland, thanks in no small part to 22-year-old Imam, who batted with patience and a sound technique to end on a well-made 74 not out.
His 126-run partnership with Azam was the defining one of the day.
Though Babar was run out thanks to a mix-up with Imam, with the score on 142, and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed followed soon after for 8, it was too little too late for Ireland, and Shadab Khan ended on 8 not out to help Pakistan over the line.
In the first innings Pakistan made 310/9 with Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan and Asad Shafiq scoring handsomely. After that the bowlers did a fantastic job to restrict the hosts to 130. Mohammad Abbas took four wickets while Shadab Khan scalped three wickets.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 310 & 160/5 (Imam-ul-Haq 74 not out, Babar Azam 59; Tim Murtagh 2/45) beat Ireland 130 & 339 (Kevin O’Brien 118, Stuart Thompson 53; Mohammad Abbas 5/66) by 5 wickets.