Sunday, 16 June, 2019

O'Brien hits historic ton as Ireland fight back

Kevin O'Brien Kevin O’Brien celebrates his century
Cary Erickson | 15 May, 2018, 23:13

Amir, who helped Essex win English cricket's first-class County Championship a year ago, burst onto the world scene as a teenager and at 18 was the youngest bowler to the landmark of 50 Test wickets.

Rather than the packed stands of Bangalore, there were only a few hundred spectators dotted around the five temporary stands in Malahide yesterday, the fourth day of the historic Test, but it was definitely an "I was there" moment.

Asked to compare this innings with his World Cup ton, the 34-year-old replied: "I still think for me Bangalore is definitely number one, just for the sheer moment it was and against who it was, in the World Cup".

However, Pakistan had crumbled to 14-3 in Tuesday's morning session, raising the prospect of a stunning Ireland victory after the hosts had been made to follow on. A man who knows a thing or two about Test match history, veteran Pakistan journalist Qamar Ahmed - watching his 435th Test match in the last 44 years - described the match as "one of the most fantastic and absorbing" he has witnessed considering Ireland's fightback.

Hopes of an unlikely home victory were raised on the final day when the tourists, chasing 160, crashed to 14 for three, yet half-centurions Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam helped Pakistan home ahead of their meeting with England at Lord's next week.

But that can wait until today.

O'Brien's century forced Ireland to set up an impromptu honour board in a demountable at the ground.

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He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1951 and later received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1957. It was a long-form of writing in which writers deeply immersed themselves in the subject they were writing about.

The beaten Ireland captain William Porterfield is remaining positive: "It would have made for a very interesting game had lead got close to 200 runs and had we been able to break that partnership [between Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam] it could be a very interesting finish".

Amir was not operating at top speed to begin with on Monday-often the case with many fully-fit pacemen when they bowl their first over of the day-and flexed his knee while walking gingerly between overs.

O'Brien's circumspect batting - his 118 has come from 216 balls and contained 12 fours - has ensured Ireland stay alive at Malahide. Joyce, with 43, was run out by Faheem Ashraf's direct hit and there was a pair for Andrew Balbirnie, who was once more trapped in front by Mohammad Abbas. He could manage only one boundary, however, before he edged Amir to slip.

But the rest of the day belonged to Ireland.

Amir was taken out of the attack and left the field as Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien tried to dwindle down their side's deficit.

Botham received great support from a left-hander making his maiden Test fifty, the late Graham Dilley, just as O'Brien did from another left-hander compiling his first half-century at this level in Stuart Thompson.