Dublin: History is within touching distance for the Ireland men’s cricket team whe they face Pakistan in men's inaugural Test at The Village in Malahide, Dublin starts from Friday.
For the likes of Ed Joyce -- who at the age of 39 will be one of the oldest Test debutants if he makes the XI – the O’Brien brothers Kevin and Niall, and William Porterfield, the team captain, the journey has spanned over a decade, during which they went from a side of giant-killers in limited-overs cricket to finally earning Full Member status last year, along with Afghanistan.
That they face Pakistan, No.7 in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Rankings, adds to the occasion.
Ireland famously got the better of them in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, a result which prompted the rest of the world to take note of the side.
As for the cricket, Pakistan have a fairly young side – as many as five players are in line to make their Test debuts – and Ireland will hope to bring all their first-class experience to the game, and capitalise on any possible jitters on the part of the visitors.
That said, history is against Ireland. Not many teams have found success early in the Test journeys – Bangladesh, the most recent Test side before Ireland and Afghanistan, played their maiden Test in 2000 against India, but it took them 33 matches to register their first win.
And even if somehow Ireland do manage a fairy tale win, it won’t be enough to put them on the rankings table. Ireland will have to play eight Tests before making the grade.
They do get points, though – 90 for a victory, and 40 for a draw. As for Pakistan, a win will gain them a solitary point, and anything less will result in them losing points.
Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Andrew Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Craig Young, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wk)
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c/wk), Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Sami Aslam, Haris Sohail, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Saad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Usman Salahuddin, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Faheem Ashraf
Pitch and conditions
Rain is forecast for a majority of the all five days, although if it relents, the cloudy conditions could play to the pacemen’s favour.
Stats and trivia
11-15 May 2018
Start time: 11:00 local (10:00 GMT)