Ireland ready for inaugural Test match against Pakistan

Ireland famously knocked Pakistan out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007

Ireland famously knocked Pakistan out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007

It will be Imam's first Test match, and apart from the pressure of playing his debut Test, eyes will be on him because of the reputation of his uncle, Inzamam, one of the stalwarts of Pakistan cricket in his time.

"I think the biggest thing for us is that we need to make our first-class structure - we had a very good game last week - we need to make that sustainable and better and get the volume of fixtures into that and the Wolves system, which is essentially our A team".

Although the team which faces Pakistan at Malahide, starting on Friday, is nearly certain to include 10 players, each with at least 61 internationals under his belt, the rest of the 14-man squad are the ones who will be around for years to come.

Ireland will become the 11th nation to play the longest format of the game.

"There'll be a lot of pressure coming with the occasion but having seen Ireland pull off some unbelievable upsets in the past, it looks like the Irish thrive on extra pressure and perform above expectations". For Pakistan, this is a chance to get some red ball cricket under their belt prior to their tour of England that comes right after this match.

"Nowadays we saw that Imam was playing better: he scored two fifties in the practice matches (61 against Kent and an unbeaten 59 against Northamptonshire) so that's why we go with Imam-ul-Haq".

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"Not only over the last 5-10 years which everyone will probably remember most, but for every cricketer that's ever played for Ireland. You've got a lot of past players - some of them are here with us, some aren't, but we have to remember and recognise what they have done to get us to this stage because if it wasn't for them, and everything that they have done, we would not have been lucky enough to be taking the field, come Friday". "It's a very proud feeling", Imam said.

But several members of their squad already know what it's like to cause a huge upset against Pakistan, having played in the Ireland side that knocked the Asian giants out of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean with a stunning three-wicket win in Jamaica.

It was a much-appreciated decision by the ICC to grant Test status to Ireland and Afghanistan, who have been the most consistent performers among the Associate Nations over the years.

Ahead of their Test debut against Pakistan on Friday, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom has expressed his country's willingness to tour the Asian country after revisiting the security situation with the International Cricket Council's (ICC) security team.

Pakistan now sit in seventh place on the rankings, but even though they are going up against a side with no Test experience Imam pointed out that his side can not afford to underestimate Ireland.

"If we can utilise that and take 20 wickets we can win the game".

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