Ireland to play Pakistan in first test next year

ICC I-Cup Ireland on verge of an innings victory – Day 3 report

ICC I-Cup Ireland on verge of an innings victory – Day 3 report

South Africa announced plans to play Zimbabwe in the first four-day Test starting on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth, as part of their home summer calendar for the 2017-18 season.

The exact dates and venue for the historic match have yet to be decided, but the opponents have been confirmed.

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"This is a significant point in time for ICC Members and our collective desire to secure a vibrant future for global bilateral cricket", Richardson said about the decision. "It has been our wish to make our Test debut in front of our own fans within 12 months of becoming a Test nation, and against a big team, so I'm delighted".

Cricket Ireland officials will be travelling to Auckland in New Zealand for the ICC Board meeting this week where they will lobby for worldwide fixtures for the next two calendar years.

"Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge, but this is the first time a genuine solution has been agreed on", ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said.

Pakistan were top of the test match rankings as recently as past year before slipping back after the retirement of captain Misbah-ul-Haq and senior batsman Younis Khan.

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"It's fantastic news for Irish cricket", Porterfield added.

"There's a special affinity between ourselves and Pakistan going back to the 2007 World Cup (when Ireland defeated Pakistan to knock it out of the group stage) and they've been regular tourists here over the past decade".

Purists view Test cricket as the pinnacle of the sport but it has struggled, particularly in Asia, as lucrative T20 competitions such as the Indian Premier League have caught the public's imagination.

"I'm certain there will be an incredible atmosphere from both sets of fans who will be keen to witness a piece of history".

Pakistan have just come off their first ever Test series defeat in the UAE since moving base in 2009 after Sri Lanka pulled off a shock upset.

"Four-day tests will also provide the new test-playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams".

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