“While Ireland and Pakistan are playing the historic Test in Malahide Cricket Club Ground, around 22KM away, in the same city of Dublin, College Park still stands strong in Irish cricket and will always remain their most iconic stadium”.
After losing the first day to bleak Irish weather, the coin finally was tossed on Saturday as cricket welcomed its 11th Test side, Ireland. The new Test participants won the toss and put their opponents, Pakistan to bat first at the Malahide Cricket Club Ground in Dublin. It is fitting that Ireland’s men cricket team is playing against Pakistan in their debut Test, thanks to their strong alliance in the history of the sport.
Although, the ongoing Test in Dublin is Irish men’s Test debut, it is not the first time Ireland is playing Test cricket. Back in 2000, Irish Women made their Test debut and co-incidentally, their opponents were also Pakistan. Unfortunately, that Test still remains their only Test and by the look of it, it will always remain so as the International Cricket Council (ICC) have decided to scrap off women’s Test cricket.
Then came the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, the event that actually highlighted the strong association of Ireland and Pakistan. Ireland had defeated Pakistan by three wickets in the group stage to eliminate the latter from the ICC event. The fairy-tale moment soon turned into a nightmare when Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room the next morning.
Moreover, Pakistan have played three bilateral ODI series in Ireland, the most among the other ODI teams. (in 2011, 2013 and 2016).
Reminiscing the inception of this association between the two sides, let’s go back to 1962, when Pakistan had toured England for a five-Test series. Unlike the 1954 series, where Pakistan had managed to fight out a four-Test series to 1-1, the 1962 series would turn out to be horrific for the visitors, in terms of the results. Pakistan, who were already struggling to cope with the chilly weather, were outplayed by England in all the departments as the heavy defeats in Birmingham, Lord’s and Leeds saw Pakistan losing the series in the first three Tests itself.
Pakistan, led by Javed Burki, managed to draw the rain-hit Trent Bridge Test. Before the two sides locked horns in the fifth and the final Test, Pakistan made his maiden visit to Ireland for a two-day match, which was played at Dublin’s College Park from 1-2 August, 1962. That match saw the arrival of television to cricket in Dublin. The Telefis-Eireann cameras present at the ground recorded the concluding two hours of each day. Pakistan’s tour of Ireland in 1962 marked the fact that all the Test playing nations, that had toured Britain, had come to Ireland as well in an 11-year period.
Since nothing went Pakistan’s way on that tour, the only positive that motivated them into the two-day match against Ireland was the 19-year-old Mushtaq Mohammad’s unbeaten century in the fourth Test in Nottingham. Pakistan chose to play only five players, out of their XI in the fourth Test, against Ireland in the two-day game. They were Mushtaq Mohammad, Shahid Mahmood, Nasim ul Ghani, Intikab Alam and Fazal Mahmood. Fazal, who had not played all the Tests that tour and was called in as a replacement, captained Pakistan in Dublin.
The Irish weather being the typical itself once again had interfered in the game.
The rain caused the loss of almost an hour between lunch and tea. The hosts won the toss and Captain Alec John O’Riordan decided to bat first. They lost opener Stanley Bergin without a run on the board to Antao D’Souza. He was caught by Pakistan’s stand-in-skipper Fazal at slip. McLoy and Herbert Martin went on to pile up 60 runs for the second wicket in the next one hour. Pakistan used up as many as six bowlers but could not make a breakthrough. The tougher one to bowl to was Martin, who was hard especially on the spinners.
It was left-arm orthodox Nasim-ul-Ghani, who broke the stand, by trapping McLoy for 24 runs and left Ireland at 60 for 2. Ireland took lunch at 69 for 2. Rain halted the match twice and when play resumed, Martin completed his fifty in 105 minutes. He was then bowled by D’Souza for 54 when the hosts were on 84. The innings was no ordinary. Against a full-time Test playing nation, he executed a fearless innings; smashed six fours, all on leg side, and when he had reached 42, he had become the 11th player to complete 1,000 runs for Ireland.
The duo of McQuilken and Lewis saw 100 up for Ireland and that was followed by a typical Irish middle-order derail. D’Souza made two back-to-back breakthroughs to bowl Lewis and the new cap Donaghy with successive balls. They lost another wicket in quick succession and from 104 for 3, Ireland went to 104 for 6. By tea, the home team was on 126 for 7. Courtesy of D’Souza, who bowled well on the soft green wicket in 28 overs at a brisk pace to clinch a five-for, Pakistan bowled Ireland out for a total of 167.
There still were 64 minutes left before stump on the first day. Ireland making full use of it, removed four Pakistani batsmen for just 36 runs. O’Riordan and Kenny bowled 28 overs between them, who hardly put a wrong foot. O’Riordan had 3-16 and Kenny had a wicket to his name at the end of Day one. O’Riordan bowled Butt with his second ball and caught and bowled young Mushtaq in his third over. Asif was caught at leg slip by Martin off Kenny and Nasim was caught behind off O’Riordan.
Pakistan resumed Day two with Wallis (16) and Shahid( 3) at the crease and the total 36-4. The Pakistani skipper shocked the opposition and also turned the match interesting when he declared at 105 for 6, Pakistan were still 62 run behind. Fazal took the step in a hope of pressing a victory. His tactic almost worked when Pakistan got rid of the Irish openers at 26 for 2. But one-down batsman Martin, who top-scored with 39 runs ensured Ireland would be safe by the end of the match. Ireland were able to declare at 112 for 8, thereby setting a target of 175.
There was no way Pakistan could win the match from there. The Pakistanis reshuffled their batting order for the final innings. They brought in Shahid, instead of Butt, to open with Ahmed. Kenny dismissed Shahid and Mushtaq within 44 runs but O’Riordan, who grabbed three scalps in the first innings, went wicket-less this time. With three wickets gone, Pakistan needed to score 115 in the final hour of the match. They got only 67 with opener Ahmed not out for 54. The match ended in a draw with a total of 228.3 overs being bowled.
College Park, the venue where Pakistan and Ireland played each other for the very first time, has been a crucial part of Irish cricket. It saw Ireland’s triumphs over the South Africans in 1904, the West Indians in 1928 and a superb draw over Pakistan in 1962. While Ireland and Pakistan are playing the historic Test in Malahide Cricket Club Ground, around 22KM away, in the same city of Dublin, College Park still stands strong in Irish cricket and will always remain their most iconic stadium.