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Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq backs Ireland for Test cricket

Updated: Monday, 27 May 2013 13:22 | Comments

Ireland fell agonisingly short against Pakistan but the series was a good indication of the progress made
Ireland fell agonisingly short against Pakistan but the series was a good indication of the progress made

Ireland's long-term ambition to become a Test-playing nation was handed further weight after they narrowly fell short of an RSA Insurance one-day international series wins in Dublin.

After the opening match ended in a dramatic tie Ireland looked set to claim a first series win over a full member when Pakistan crashed to 17 for four chasing 230 yesterday.

It took a stunning counter attack from eighth-wicket pair Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz, who crashed 93 from 62 balls, to deny them a famous triumph by just two wickets.

It left Ireland to wonder what might have been for a second time in four days and skipper William Porterfield to admit they had been left heartbroken.

But after the dust had settled on the matches, in which Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce both scored centuries, Ireland had again vindicated claims they are a full member in waiting.

After the match Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq admitted the International Cricket Council needed to consider Ireland for top-flight status, saying: "That's purely on the ICC but they are a better team now so the ICC should think about that.

"If you look at their batting line-up that is good enough to do well anywhere.

"They may struggle a little bit with their bowling line-up when they go out of Ireland but still they are a really mature side.

"We were really struggling."

"If you look at their batting line-up that is good enough to do well anywhere," - Misbah-ul-Haq

Cricket Ireland's ambitious chief Warren Deutrom has repeatedly stated his desire to do all that is possible to take the country to the top echelon.

Deutrom has, however, previously sought to taper ambition by setting a target of 2020 to gain Test-playing status.

"It is unrealistic in the short term but it is a realistic ambition," he told Press Association Sport.

"It is something that we have aimed for by 2020.

"We are trying to address all of the rationale to be a full-member country. We have a strategic plan about where we are trying to go."

Ireland have long been the stand-out country amongst the associate nations, pulling off famous 50-over wins against Pakistan and England at the past two World Cups.

The good will from other nations has, at least on the surface, been for Ireland to be considered for promotion as the likes of Stirling, George Dockrell and Kevin O'Brien have marked themselves as world-class talents.

Despite that CI must first meet the ICC rationale for earning promotion which, as well as on-field results, requires off-field structures to be cemented.

The introduction of a professional domestic league this season has been one major step in that direction with Deutrom determined to meet the ambition of the young players who are now emerging from the Irish system.

"We must show our aspiration to these players that we want to aspire to the pinnacle of the game which is Test cricket," he said.

"That is what players aspire to and we must replicate that and provide them with a pathway to show that is what we are trying to do.

"We have been at the top of the tree in the associate countries for five or six years now. We can't afford to just be happy with that and continue on.

"There is no point in us slapping each other on the back and turning the lights out and saying well done.

"We are an associate nation which is still regarded as second best. We don't want to just be second best."

Ireland's next major step will be securing qualification for the 2015 World Cup with their final qualifiers against closest rivals Holland and Scotland later this summer.

Ireland currently lead the group, with the top two going through automatically, and Deutrom admits those matches are crucial to their long-term ambitions.

"It is everything. Not being a part of it is something that we frankly would not even contemplate," he said.

"In terms of private funders and financially it is important, but also for the players and the profile of the sport. It drives so much interest in the sport and provides a platform."

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