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Proud William Porterfield salutes his men's character

 

By Ian Callender

Ireland captain William Porterfield was "extremely proud" of his players, despite ending up on the losing side in their first ever Test match.

No nation since Australia in 1887 has won their first Test match but Ireland came closer than most as Pakistan were made to fight all the way before winning by five wickets deep into the final day.

"It was a hell of an effort for all five days (four actually as the first was washed out), from how we bowled on the opening day with so much emotion about, after 11 caps were handed out and family and friends watching and we carried that through from the first day," said Porterfield.

"When we went out to bat, I'm sure a lot of the lads would like to have that opportunity again but on a personal level I can say the heart was beating a little bit faster than normal - I'm not saying it led to my downfall in any way - but there was always going to be nerves around. And the way we put that right in the second innings was superb.

"The fourth day belonged to Kevin (O'Brien) with great support from Stuart Thompson and Tyrone Kane. But to score a hundred on debut, being under the pump, and to show the character which we had talked about and to go on and score the big one was great to see, I'm delighted for him.

"We've done it before at World Cups, showing character, but Test cricket is Test cricket for a reason, it's in the name, you do get tested and we were after the first innings (when asked to follow-on) when we had to go back out for those 25 overs at the end of day three.

"Had they knocked three or four over then, people would have had different thoughts on the game. But to get through that and to get close to 350, it shows what we have got in the changing room and the passion we have playing for our country."

Porterfield had been one of the few members of the Irish camp who had spoken about actually having a chance of winning the match and last night, having set Pakistan a victory target of 160, he admitted "we're disappointed not to win in the end".

He went on: "It would have been nice to score a few extra runs this morning but at 14-3 we had a proper sniff and if we had broken that (fourth wicket) partnership earlier it was completely game on, but we were playing against a quality line-up and the way the lads equated themselves I can't fault anyone at all.

"Close to 200 would have made it a very interesting game but they came out and played positively and it was how you had to play to get over the line."

The captain also hinted that Stuart Thompson, after his maiden Test 50, could move up the order and make room for a specialist spinner in the side; Paul Stirling wasn't used yesterday.

"A couple of times I was tempted to use Stirlo but I couldn't get the ball out of Murts' (Tim Murtagh) hands. He doesn't have a game for a couple of weeks because Middlesex will be playing one-day cricket and a few stayed low at that end so I just kept going with him as that was potentially the way we were going to break the partnership, with the seamers," added Porterfield.

"We knew the weather was going to be around on Friday so we were always going in with an all-seam attack, but we will have to find a way of getting a front line spinner in, especially moving forward."

Tonight's fixtures: Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup: Civil Service North v Instonians (5.30pm), Waringstown v Armagh (6.00pm).

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