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Pakistan feeling honoured to face Ireland: skipper

 

By Ian Callender

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said he was honoured to play in Ireland's first Test match and expected the game to be a huge boost for Irish cricket.

"It is a big honour for me and my team to play this historic Test match, the first Test match to be played in Ireland," he said.

"Everyone will see this match so we are very ready to play, it's a great match to play in.

"I think it's a great achievement for Cricket Ireland to play Test cricket and my congratulations (to them) on behalf of Pakistan as well.

"After this Test, there will be more cricketers coming to Ireland and kids will be coming to play cricket as well."

It took just one look at the Malahide pitch for Sarfraz to announce the same team which beat Northamptonshire in their final warm-up match for the Test, so Ireland will be up against teenage leg spinner Shadab Khan, who took 10 wickets at the County Ground, and left arm quick Mohammad Amir who was banned for five years in 2011 for spot-fixing. The 26-year-old has already taken 95 wickets in 30 Test matches.

There will be two Test debutants - opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq, who scored half-centuries in both warm-up games, and Faheem Ashraf, an all-rounder who has made his name in limited overs cricket with explosive hitting.

TEAMS: Ireland: W Porterfield (capt), E Joyce, A Balbirnie, N O'Brien, P Stirling, K O'Brien, G Wilson, A McBrine (or S Thompson), T Kane, B Rankin, T Murtagh

Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali

Umpires: Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong

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