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O'Brien's classy century against Pakistan blasts him up rankings

 

By Ian Callender

Kevin O'Brien has broken into the Test match batting rankings at No 66 in the world after his second innings century in Ireland's debut against Pakistan.

O'Brien top scored with 40 but it was his 118 against the seventh best Test nation which has propelled him into the rankings level with South African Vernon Philander and above England Test rejects James Vince (76th) and Gary Ballance (79th).

The other high entry is someone who, two weeks ago, did not even expect to be a Test player but not only has Stuart Thompson come into the rankings as a batsman at No 125 after his maiden Test 50, but is also the 88th best Test bowler, just 21 places below Tim Murtagh who took six for 100 in the match.

Only Charles Bannerman, who scored 165 not out for Australia in the first ever Test in 1877, had a higher rating than O'Brien after a team's first Test.

Speaking about his heroics, which earned O'Brien the man of the match award, Ireland coach Graham Ford said: "He has an amazing temperament for the big occasion. Kevin has put those performances in on a number of occasions, he was really up for it and played ever so well. I can't say enough about his performance against a high-quality attack."

Ford, speaking for the first time about the Test, said he was immensely proud of the team's performance and the players' character and fight.

"At one stage we were down and out with people thinking the game would be over on the second day of play," said the Head Coach. "I have witnessed the character of Irish teams in the past from far away but to be a part of that was something I'm very proud off, a special time.

"I really under-estimated how much nerves the lads would have in the first innings. The timing of Pakistan's declaration was brilliant and we didn't handle the pressure but the boys had a good think about it and a good chat and responded fantastically, and that's what it's all about, how you respond to situations."

His one regret on Tuesday night was that there wasn't a second match in the series.

He added: "All the boys would love to have a second crack in a week or so and improve on what they did over the last few days."

Lagan Valley T20 Cup: At Stormont, CSNI beat Instonians by eight wickets. Instonians 100, 19.4 overs (S Getkate 32, B Adair 2-12, A Wright 2-22, A Malan 2-23, M Foster 2-25). CSNI 101-2, 18.2 overs (M Ellison 44 no, M Topping 35 no). At The Lawn, Waringstown beat Armagh by 43 runs. Waringstown 143-3 (L Nelson 40, J McCollum 35 no, A Dennison 31, J Hall 30, A Whitcroft 2-21). Armagh 100-8 (S van Schalkwyk 61, L Nelson 3-8, P Eaglestone 2-25).

Tonight: CIYMS v North Down (6pm), Muckamore v Carrick (6.15pm).

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