Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
BOYD Rankin is still Ireland’s most experienced Test cricketer but on Friday he will be will making his first class debut in India.
Injury forced the big Bready pace bowler to return home early from Ireland’s last visit here in 2017 and so missed the Intercontinental Cup clash, which Afghanistan won inside three days!
Missing Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien, John Anderson and Gary Wilson from that line-up, it may be a less experienced batting line-up but Rankin expects Ireland to give a good account of themselves in their second Test against the Afghans, although accepts they go into the match as underdogs.
“It will be mainly down to our spinners versus their spinners and while they have a couple of world class spinners, if we play them well, we have a good chance of staying in the game,” said Rankin, who made his Test debut five years ago for England in Sydney.
“I don’t think there’s too much between the sides but Test cricket is a different ball game, you don’t have to score at any real rate and hopefully it will make Rashid Khan easier to play. Our aim will be to bat for a long period of time and get a good score on the board.
“The seamers’ job in these conditions is slightly different as there’s not a lot of lateral movement. You have to keep it tight, we’ll bowl only two or three spells in the day, with the spinners doing most of the work.
“But the first 10 overs with the Kookaburra ball will swing, but it usually gets soft quite quickly so If there is anything in the pitch we have to make use of it in those first 10 overs. After that it’s a matter of bowling quite straight and make them make mistakes. Hopefully later on reverse swing will come into play.”
Rankin, having given up hope of further England Test matches, returned to Ireland in 2016 and was a member of the inaugural Test XI that faced Pakistan last May.
“Malahide was a great Test to be involved in. It was a long time coming for the lads, slightly different for me having already made my Test debut but I’ve good memories of my first Ireland Test and we put on a good show there.
“It’s been a tough tour here but we bounced back on Sunday in the final ODI of the series and that will leave us in good stead for the Test match.”