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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Ireland 13-1 to make perfect Test start at Malahide

Asad Shafiq is a tempting price to top score for Pakistan

Pakistan's Asad Shafiq could provide a harsh lesson for Ireland in their first Test
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One-off Test
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Ireland have claimed some memorable scalps in limited-overs cricket but they are 13-1 to win their first Test match when they host Pakistan at Malahide.

With rain forecast to disrupt the first day of Ireland's inaugural Test, the draw is a big runner at 15-8 while Pakistan are 8-13 favourites.

It's a significant step up for an experienced (or, to put it less politely, ageing) Ireland side whose stalwarts have waited a long time to be granted Test status.

Skipper William Porterfield, former England Test bowler Boyd Rankin, brothers Niall and Kevin O'Brien, and 39-year-old Ed Joyce are all likely to feature in the historic match but there are some hugely talented players in the opposition ranks.

Pakistan drew 2-2 in England in 2016 and, while batting titans Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq have retired since that series, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq are high-class operators in the top order.

Shafiq is expected to bat at number four and he looks a tempting price to top-score, especially in the light of his unbeaten 186 in the warm-up game against Northamptonshire.

His 11 Test centuries include away tons against Australia at the Gabba, South Africa in Cape Town and England at The Oval, and he has averaged more than 50 in Test cricket in three of the last four years.

In County Championship Division One, Yorkshire – victorious at Essex last time out despite being bowled out for 50 – are 10-11 draw no bet to beat Surrey at The Oval.

Kent started their Division Two campaign by being skittled for 64 but they have bounced back well with wins over Durham and Glamorgan and could see off Sussex at Canterbury.

New Zealand fast bowler Matt Henry has made a stunning start to the summer with Kent, claiming 27 wickets in three matches at an average of just 8.62. Veteran Darren Stevens has 18 scalps of his own and the pair should trouble an unconvincing Sussex batting unit. 

A Shafiq top Pakistan runscorer
1pt 6-1 Betfair, BoyleSports
1pt 11-10 Coral, Ladbrokes

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Shafiq's 11 Test centuries include away tons against Australia at the Gabba, South Africa in Cape Town and England at The Oval
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