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Pakistan's rookies Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan reveal the limits of Ireland's discipline

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WATCH - Ashraf's record-breaking maiden Test fifty (1:41)

Faheem Ashraf recorded the fastest 50 by a Pakistan batsman on Test debut in Ireland's inaugural Test match. (1:41)

Tim Murtagh looked every inch the experienced pro at the top of his mark. Fit and trim, it was clear that this was a man who had delivered tens of thousands of balls in first-class cricket. His robot run-up is that of a man who had been coached to be the most efficient bowler he can be. And then at the crease he delivered medium-fast pace, the first ball, floated away from the bat on a yorker length. Azhar Ali seemed shocked by the full length and just clamped down on it, getting enough to squirt it to the onside.

Then madness. Imam-ul-Haq, who was yet to face a ball in Test cricket, took off on a run that never seemed necessary, or safe. It was the wild panic run of a debutant. And against one of the best-drilled fielding teams in world cricket. Two Irish players - Niall O'Brien from behind the stumps and Tyrone Kane from square leg - flew in with intent for the run-out. And somehow, because of the ball placement and Imam's running, all three found themselves occupying the same space. Imam's head and neck became the sandwich between Kane's torso and O'Brien's hip.

It was a crazy run; it ended up with a near-loss of consciousness for the man who called it. And yet by the end of it, Ireland were the composed ones, and Pakistan looked like the team of debutants.

For the best part of the next eight overs, nothing happened other than Pakistani batsmen trying to run themselves - or knock themselves - out. And then, in the space of eight balls, Ireland suddenly looked like a Test team.

Up until that point, they looked like a well-disciplined first-class side, and so they should, as they have 1254 first-class caps to Pakistan's 816. This is an old new side. Murtagh's mechanical mediums and Boyd Rankin's decent pace looked okay, but there was no real explosion. It was polite.

But then for eight balls it looked different. Rankin's angle into the body upset Azhar, and from the very next delivery, Murtagh got one to straighten on Imam. For the team hat-trick delivery, Haris Sohail found himself standing mid-pitch, pondering philosophical issues when he should have been worried about Stuart Thompson running around and firing the ball at the stumps. A few deliveries later, Asad Shafiq edged just short of slip. And the first ball of Tyrone Kane's debut over was a no-ball, but Pakistan still threatened to contrive a run-out from it.

It was Irish cricket at its stereotypical best; backing their seamers, using the facilities well, backed up by switched-on fielders. Like Voltron - defender of the universe - they are a better team when they act as one unit and not the sum of their parts. Rankin aside, there are no stone-cold killers in the side, they have to come together. Murtagh's canny sideways movement needs real support from the other end to be truly effective.

That is what they did all day, and for most of the day, Pakistan helped them. Shafiq was in complete control until he fell for a fairly obvious leg-side trap that we can now call 'Boydy'-line. Haris Sohail's shot to be dismissed by Stuart Thompson was incredibly poor. Sarfraz Ahmed was just as ordinary in his departure, and there were many other limp risky shots - especially off the bowling of Thompson.

It was Thompson who gave us the best glimpse of how Ireland might prosper, but also how they might fail, at this level. Thompson is a friendly bowler; he's a small step-up on club cricket, a No.8 who gets you a few overs. He's far from rubbish, he moves the ball, is very competitive, and looks smart, but you can also see why he came into the game with a bowling average a touch under 40.

But it was also Thompson who took the critical wickets of Sohail and Sarfraz, perhaps because of the pressure created by a tight bowling unit, and because they saw him as a weak link. No one has nightmares about Thompson's bowling - at least not before you go out to face it - but it was Thompson through the middle of the game with his wobbling dobbers that caused the problems.

And here is something else that is interesting about Ireland, all their bowlers moved the ball all day. Tyrone Kane, whose figures look far worse than he did early on, swung the ball massively early on, and a should have taken a wicket. Murtagh kept coming back and moving it.

That they swung the ball all day was great, that they had five right-arm seam options, four of which had medium as the first designator, was the problem.

Once Pakistan stopped donating wickets and flirting with run-outs, and pinched the luck that had run Ireland's way earlier, they revealed their opponents' attack as one that had been set up to contain, not dismiss. For almost 30 overs they went wicketless, and that was against Shadab Khan, with one Test to his name, and Faheem Ashraf, on debut. And while they never lost their way, they also never looked all that capable of changing their direction either. And they did not have the luck of the Irish either: balls flew over slips, through gaps and the best edge of the day flicked just enough of O'Brien's glove to deflect it out of Gary Wilson's grasp at first slip.

When asked if he was happy with the close-of-play score, Wilson said they would have taken it, and then he said he wasn't sure. It was that kind of day, six wickets on day one was a great achievement, but because they took them up front, it felt like a lost opportunity. Asad Shafiq, meanwhile, seemed surprised at the quality of Ireland's bowling.

Ireland looked every inch the professional team throughout most of the day. At times they hinted at something more, but today it was two men with one Test who might have taken the game away from eleven men with one Test.

Ireland were the composed ones, but Pakistan just looked a bit better.