White kits, red ball and five days of cricketing action come to mind when someone talks about Test cricket. The most tough and challenging format of the game is undoubtedly Test cricket. To play 90 overs in three sessions for 5 consecutive days is not easy at an easy task after all. This is the real test of patience, character, courage, determination and fitness of the players and those who pass this are remembered forever.
The first officially recognized test match was held on 15th March 1877 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between Australia and England. Pakistan cricket team played its first ever test match on 16 October 1952 against arch rivals India.
Only 10 teams played Test matches till 22nd June 2017 as they had Test status but International Cricket Council, on that fateful day, awarded Test status to Ireland and Afghanistan. They have both booked their slots for Test cricket for May and June 2018. Afghanistan will play against India on 14th June 2018 while Ireland will face Pakistan on 11th May 2018.
So, history will be made at the Dublin Cricket Ground on 11th May 2018 when Ireland will debut in the white kits against Pakistan. This match is very important for Irish cricket at the same time it will be very important for Pakistan cricket team as, the first time, Sarfraz Ahmad will be leading the Pakistan team in UK in five-day games.
Conditions in UK are always tough for batting and more suited to seam bowling.
Two senior men of Pakistan team, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, are no more with the team. Spin weapon in Test cricket magician Yasir Shah is also out with injury so this Pakistan team will be different from the past. There are many youngsters in Pakistan team like Shadab Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Saad Ali, Fahim Ashraf and Sami Aslam. These players will have an opportunity to cement their spots in test team. At the same time, a lot of responsibility will be on the seniors like Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmad.
Morale of Pakistan team is high after winning the second practice match of the tour against Northamptonshire.
If we look at Irish squad, this will be their first match but they have one player who has already played Test cricket i.e. Boyd Rankin. He played a test for England in 2014 against Australia. Another member of their squad Ed Joyce was also part of English Test squad but did not get a game.
Many Irish players play county cricket regularly in England so they also have good first class cricket experience behind them. Overall they have named a strong squad to face Pakistan. So hopefully we will be having an amazing game of cricket this Friday.
Story first published: 10th May 2018