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15 May 2018, 12:53 | Henrietta Morgan
Kevin O’Brien celebrates his century
Mohammad Amir took his 100th Test wicket after returning to the fray against Ireland on Monday despite a troublesome knee injury.
O'Brien, the man for the big occasion, had just scored Ireland's first Test century in their debut Test, seven years after he scored the fastest World Cup hundred to help Ireland beat England at the 2011 tournament. "If I I can continue [tomorrow] for another hour and a half, to 170-odd, this could top it", he said.
O'Brien reached his century with a squeezed two off Amir to become just the fourth batsman to score a century in his country's inaugural Test.
Ireland began day four of the only Test against Pakistan on 64 without loss but found Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas hard to handle. Let's bask in and review Ireland's, and particularly O'Brien's, greatest day - I believe better than the World Cup win, because this was unknown territory for the Irish.
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Niall O'Brien, after enduring a 10-ball duck in the first innings, was much more positive this time, which was fortunate because the scoreboard would have stopped otherwise as William Porterfield faced 25 balls without scoring.
At first he was in partnership, once again, with Paul Stirling but by the 58th over Abbas was getting good reverse swing and it did it for the Middlesex professional, the sixth lbw victim of the match. The match was scheduled to begin on May 11 (Friday) but it could only start on Saturday after the first day was completely washed out due to rain.
The lead of 139 is precarious and Ireland's chances of victory hinge on keeping the Dubliner at the crease as long as possible and then following that up with an inspired spell of bowling.
Stuart Thompson just about survived becoming victim number 101 but he, along with Kevin O'Brien, took 14 off two Amir overs to bring Ireland within touching distance of moving in front.
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And only three teams - one for every century in which Test cricket has been played - have won after following-on, with South Africa in 1894, England in 1981 and India at Kolkata in 2001, all beating Australia having been sent back into bat.
When Thompson did eventually fall, less cool heads than O'Brien might have anxious about their tilt at three figures, as it was he placed full faith in Tyrone Kane, the pair picking up exactly where Ireland had left off.
But O'Brien's circumspect batting - his 118 has come from 216 balls and contained 12 fours - has ensured Ireland stay alive at Malahide.
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