Ireland proud on Test debut even as Pakistan ‘get away’

Irish players appeal unsuccessfully for a wicket during play on day two of Ireland’s inaugural test match against Pakistan at Malahide cricket club, in Dublin on May 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 May 2018

Ireland proud on Test debut even as Pakistan ‘get away’

  • Ireland became the 11th nation in the 141-year history of men’s Test cricket
  • “It’s a very proud moment for everyone but for everyone involved in Irish cricket and to be presented with a cap this morning was brilliant,” says Ireland’s Gary Wilson

DUBLIN: Not even a spirited late-order recovery by Pakistan could dent Ireland’s pride as their men’s side finally made a long-awaited Test debut on Saturday.
There was a huge sense of anti-climax when Friday’s scheduled opening day of this stand-alone match at Dublin’s Malahide ground was washed out without a ball bowled.
But when Ireland captain William Porterfield won the toss, on a sunny Saturday morning beneath blue skies, his side officially became only the 11th nation in the 141-year history of men’s Test cricket.
And having waited more than a century for Ireland’s first Test wicket, two then came along at once as new-ball duo Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh struck with successive deliveries to leave Pakistan 13 for two.
Despite a fine fifty from top-order batsman Asad Shafiq, Pakistan continued to lose wickets before an unbeaten seventh-wicket partnership of 109 between Shadab Khan (52 not out) and Faheem Ashraf (61 not out) turned the tide to leave the tourists 268 for six when bad light and a heavy downpour led to an early close.
“They got away from us a little at the end, with edges flying over gully, over slip,” said Ireland’s Gary Wilson, blocked at first slip when diving wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien missed a chance to catch Test debutant Faheem when the left-hander was on 36.
“Then one went between Niall and myself so it could have a very different end to the day. We could have been right on top if those had gone to hand.”
Nevertheless, Wilson added: “It’s a very proud moment for everyone but for everyone involved in Irish cricket and to be presented with a (Test) cap this morning was brilliant.
“Everyone recognizes what the 688 people (the previous number of Ireland men’s internationals) who had gone before us.
“They were on our minds and we were definitely the lucky ones that got their caps this morning, a great moment.”
Prior to this match, the 36-year-old Murtagh had taken 712 first-class wickets in 210 games but he was in no doubt as to what Saturday meant for Irish cricket.
“The presentation of the caps — a few players kept their sunglasses on in case a few tears came running down, it was a nice occasion,” he said.
“It was a magic feeling to get my first wicket, I was happy for Boyd to take the first and then to get the next one, next ball was special.”
The Middlesex paceman added: “Test cricket has always been a priority for me and it’s fantastic that it has come round in my lifetime.”
A crowd of just under 5,000 gave plenty of vocal encouragement to Ireland and they were in full voice following Rankin and Murtagh’s early strikes.
“The noise for those first couple of wickets was great, they really got behind us and that helped with the adrenaline pumping and gave us an extra spring in our steps as bowlers,” said Murtagh.
Meanwhile Shafiq, in at 13 for two, was proud to play the innings Pakistan needed in the absence of retired batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
“I always wanted to bat up the order, like three of four,” explained Shafiq.
“So did the coach, Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz (Ahmed, the Pakistan captain), especially after the retirements of Misbah and Younis, so it’s now my responsibility to take that number four position.”
Saturday’s early close may have disappointed cricket purists, but it was not all bad news as it allowed Malahide spectators who were also rugby union fans to watch live television coverage of Dublin-based Leinster’s 15-12 European Champions Cup final win over Paris club Racing 92 in Bilbao.

Klopp delighted by one of his ‘biggest nights’ as youngsters see Liverpool through

Updated 03 December 2020

Klopp delighted by one of his ‘biggest nights’ as youngsters see Liverpool through

  • There are not a lot of reasons to smile because of the injuries it’s tricky. Then the boys throw themselves into that game, says Klopp

LIVERPOOL: Jurgen Klopp hailed a depleted Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Ajax to reach the last 16 as one of his greatest Champions League nights given the circumstances of a lengthy injury list.

The Reds’ youngsters took their chance to shine as 19-year-old Curtis Jones scored the only goal, while Caoimhin Kelleher kept a clean sheet against the Dutch giants on his European debut.

Victory also ensures Klopp’s men win Group D with a game to spare, allowing the German to give some of his stars a much-needed rest away to Midtjylland next week.

“Honestly, since I am (at) Liverpool, for how it feels, one of the biggest Champions League nights,” said Klopp, who has guided Liverpool to two finals and won the competition in 2019.

“Without supporters in, it was the most important, the most difficult and the most exceptional game.”

Kelleher had to deputize for Alisson Becker, who added to Klopp’s long injury list before kickoff, while Andrew Robertson needed heavy strapping applied to his ankle in the first half.

Liverpool were already without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner through injury.

“There are not a lot of reasons to smile because of the injuries it’s tricky. Then the boys throw themselves into that game,” added Klopp.

“How the kids played. Robbo with a proper knock on the ankle pushing himself through, Hendo (Jordan Henderson) with a proper knock on the back, pushing himself through. Gini (Wijnaldum) I have no words for him, Curtis Jones what a game for a 19-year-old boy. I’m really proud tonight.”

Jones has been one of the beneficiaries of those absentees with many more first-team minutes this season and came closest to breaking the deadlock before halftime when his curling effort came back off the post after just six minutes.

The midfielder was then alive to score the winner just before the hour mark when a lofted cross from Neco Williams appeared easy pickings for Ajax ‘keeper Andre Onana, but he instead tried to let the ball go behind for a goal kick and was caught out when Jones sneaked in at the back post to turn the ball into an unguarded net.

“That’s how it is sometimes, in situations where there are problems there is always an opportunity for someone else and he took it just exceptionally well,” added Klopp.

Ajax had been unbeaten in eight games since losing to at home to Liverpool in October, but they could not find a way past the inspired Kelleher.

All of the young Irishman’s previous appearances had come in domestic cup competitions and he was made to work for his clean sheet on the big stage as he flew to his left to turn Noussair Mazraoui’s long-range effort behind.

Mazraoui was denied again by Kelleher early in the second half, but David Neres should have swept home the rebound when he hit the outside of the post.

Ajax now must beat Atalanta in Amsterdam next week to make the last 16 and they were left to regret what might have been but for one moment of madness from Onana.

The Spaniard made amends with a great save to turn Roberto Firmino’s effort onto the post to keep Ajax in the game after Liverpool’s best move of the match involving Henderson and Salah.

But Kelleher produced an even better stop two minutes from time to parry Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s powerful header from point-blank range to see Liverpool over the line.

A delighted Klopp ran onto the field to embrace his goalkeeper after the full-time whistle and will hope his squad is in better health for another deep run in the knockout stages come the new year.

“You never know how a boy will react,” said Klopp. “I’m really happy with how calm he was, with how good he was.”