Dublin - Kevin O'Brien believes his latest hundred can be the springboard for a
dramatic Ireland success just as his last one set up a stunning World
Cup victory over England seven years ago.
SCORECARD: Ireland v Pakistan
O'Brien was the toast of
Ireland again at Malahide on Monday as he marked their debut Test with
the country's maiden three-figure score at this level, an innings that
gives them a chance of an unlikely win against Pakistan.
Ireland ended the fourth day of this one-off match on 319 for seven, a lead of 139 runs, after being made to follow-on.
were in danger of an innings defeat when O'Brien came in at 95 for four
on Monday, with Ireland still 85 runs adrift of Pakistan's 310 for nine
But O'Brien responded with a composed 118 not out and
together with Stuart Thompson, who made a valuable 53, turned the tide
in a century partnership for the seventh wicket.
It was a similar
story in India seven years ago when O'Brien walked out to bat at 106 for
four, with Ireland chasing an England total of 327.
But his 50-ball century, still the quickest in a World Cup match, powered Ireland to a superb win.
innings was O'Brien's first hundred for Ireland in 169 matches in all
formats since his Bangalore bonanza and meant the Irish had a shot at
becoming only the fourth side in the 141-year history of men's Test
cricket to win after following-on.
"It's a very proud and emotional moment," O'Brien told reporters after stumps.
"Hopefully now we've put ourselves in a good position to try and go ahead and win it. There's no reason why we can't (win)."
O'Brien, however, said the Bangalore hundred remained his best innings - at least for the time being.
still think for me Bangalore is definitely number one, just for the
sheer moment it was and against who it was, in the World Cup.
"If I can continue on tomorrow for another hour and a half, that 118 changes to 170-odd, this could top it."
recalled left-arm paceman Mohammad Amir - who had already dismissed
Ireland captain William Porterfield, O'Brien's brother Niall and their
fellow top-order batsman Gary Wilson to reach 100 Test wickets earlier
on Monday - when Kevin O'Brien was on 99.
But an edged two
against Amir, not his best shot perhaps, saw the 34-year-old O'Brien to
three figures in 186 balls with 10 fours.
"They sniffed an
opportunity to try and get me out on 99 and fortunately another thick
edge went past the fielder and I got two runs," said O'Brien.
"It was just relief, really. Emotional - first Test and all that.
"My mum and dad don't miss a game and my wife was there as well, and obviously Niall's in the side. I'm very proud."
Azhar Ali praised O'Brien for a "composed knock" of more than five
hours, saying it had been a "very special innings".
might have already won this match, however, had they not dropped both
Ireland openers, Ed Joyce and skipper Porterfield, in single figures off
Amir on Sunday.
Azhar, who missed Porterfield in the slips, said:
"Obviously any time in Test cricket you drop catches, you give chances
to the other team and it bites you back.
"But the way our bowlers
bowled today, especially in the first session, I think they got the
game back in our hands but, again, the innings of Kevin O'Brien was a
very special one," added Azhar, who has 14 Test hundreds to his credit.
Amir was repeatedly on and off the field on Monday after a chronic knee injury flared up again on Sunday.
was a concerning sight for Pakistan ahead of a back-to-back two-Test
series against England that starts at Lord's on May 24, but Azhar said:
"We are hoping the injury he's had is not much and we are pretty
confident it's not going to take too long (to heal)."