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Ireland to play their first Test in May

13 October 2017

Ireland, the latest entrants in the Test club along with Afghanistan, could be set to play their first official Test against Pakistan in May next year.

Ireland played their first one-day worldwide against England in 2006 and qualified for the World Cup the following year, where they beat Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has given the green light to a test championship and one-day international league, while countries are also welcome to experiment with four-day tests, the world governing body said on Friday.

The test championship is planned to involve nine countries and be run over a two-year cycle, while a 13-nation ODI league would operate between World Cups and also be used to determine which teams qualify for the showpiece 50-overs tournament every four years.

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The team is now coming to terms with the retirements of greats like Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan after sliding from the top of the ICC Test rankings to a lowly seventh below Sri Lanka after their latest defeat.

"We would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) most sincerely for agreeing to be our first opponent in Test cricket", Deutrom added.

Pakistan are now seventh in the Test rankings but were top of the pile as recently as past year.

The ICC has argued for years that a Test championship is needed to boost the format's popularity as crowds and TV viewers flock to the fast-paced, big-hitting Twenty20 version of the game. Given their jitters against Sri Lanka which resulted in a whitewash, the team has a lot of thinking to do. It is also believed that Ireland will have a very crucial home advantage against Pakistan if the Test match takes place. With the chilly European conditions and a nervy Pakistan squad, Ireland might just be looking towards making a dream entry on cricket's most prestigious stage.

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Pakistan are popular visitors to Ireland over the years with their fan support.

Ireland skipper William Porterfield was not hesitant to mention the game either in his response to the announcement.

"It's going to be a bit special and it's always great to be a part of history".

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.

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While the news is certainly a major moment for Ireland, it will be quite significant for Pakistan as well. "It'll be another step on what has been an incredible journey for our sport in a relatively short passage of time".

Ireland to play their first Test in May