Ireland’s opening batsman Ed Joyce looked a disconsolate figure at the end of Day 3 after what started out as a good day with the ball, turned into a complete collapse with the bat in their opening innings.
With Pakistan having declared on 310/9, after Ireland claimed 3 early wickets, Joyce and captain William Porterfield walked to crease to bat in their country’s historic first test match at Malahide Cricket Club. However, things didn’t go according to plan!
Ireland quickly found themselves four wickets down for only seven runs, as Joyce, Porterfield, Balbirnie and Niall O’Brien headed back to the pavilion with their chances of winning this test in ruins.
Joyce can feel a little unfortunate in that there’s no DRS in operation at this test match due to costs. Bowler Mohammed Abbas bowled to Joyce, it pitched just outside the line, but was given trapped lbw. Balbirnie and O’Brien were also dismissed by Abbas, both also by lbw.
Joyce said he had no complaints with the dismissal despite the harshness of it, “It felt close. So if you get given out, you get given out. It was pitching just about in line, so I have no complaints.”
On Ireland’s start Joyce said, “It was a bit of a nightmare start, we were a bit shell-shocked. You feel partly responsibility as the opening pair, your job is to try and get through the new ball, at least one of you.”
“It’s a Test match and these guys are very, very good and they have a high quality leg spinner as well so there is no let up.”
“They had us at seven for four, and at that position it is very hard to get anything going.”
Ireland did steady the ship somewhat when Stirling and Kevin O’Brien partnered up, Howe Stirling in particular will be disappointed with his dismissal as he hacked at a ball bowled by impressive debutant Faheem Ashraf and was caught by Babar Azam. Joyce said their contribution was very important saying, “Kevin (O’Brien) and Stirlo (Paul Stirling) counter-attacked really well and I thought Gary Wilson played a real gutsy knock to get us to where we got to because it could have been 70 or 80 if I’m being honest.”
He was very disappointed with how his innings went, but says he just needs to tweak a few things technically, “Mine was a technical thing, I just crossed myself, my back foot went to leg and my front foot went across.”
After been bowled out for 130 Ireland were forced to follow-on, and that started much better. Joyce and Porterfield combined for 64 runs (Joyce 39) and (Porterfield 23) as they looked more composed and more importantly, patient. Still, both batsman were dropped early in the innings, a sign maybe that the luck of the Irish hasn’t as yet deserted them.
“It’s a relief that we have got through to this position,” added Joyce. “I thought myself and William played well and obviously the first session tomorrow is going to be really important.”
Pakistan’s bowlers Mohamed Abbas and Mohamed Amir claimed 6 wickets between them and Joyce couldn’t be but impressed, “They are high quality bowlers and the three overs in the second innings are probably the three best overs that I have ever faced.”
And Joyce admitted that he was happy with being asked to follow on as both he and Porterfield were anxious to put runs on the board after such a poor first innings, “It was probably best that we went straight back out there. They were probably looking at the forecast and Tuesday isn’t great so they probably wanted to get back out there.”
“I wanted to get back out there and get some runs. “We’ve got another chance. We’ve done pretty well so far, but there is such a long way to go.”
Ireland will need to bat all day on Day 4 (Monday) if they’re to have any chance of getting a draw in their first-ever Test match.