Dublin - Ahead of the historic Test between Ireland and Pakistan, the visitors skipper Sarfraz Ahmed felt honoured to be a part of the momentous occasion. Pakistan's skipper not just went on to extend his wishes, but also reflected on the significance that the move will have on future generations.

"I think it is a great achievement for Ireland Cricket and Ireland Cricket Board that they will be playing international cricket," he said on the eve of the Test on Thursday. "First of all, congrats from my side and on behalf of Pakistan team as well. From here on more people will pick up the game and more kids will play the game as well. It is a big honour for me and my team to play this historic Test match. The first Test for Ireland. Everyone will definitely watch this game. We are ready to play this great match."

Match starts at 3:00 pm

The diminutive skipper gave away the starting XI even, saying that they will go in with the same team that played the last practice game against Northamptonshire. After a rain marred game against Kent ended in a draw, Pakistan trounced Northamptonshire by nine wickets in their second and last practice game. Although he would have liked some more practice time, he said his team has acclimatised well to the conditions and that none are complaining for the lack of practice.

"We try our level best to play as many practice games. We played two games, but in different weather. First game against Kent was too cold and the next one against the Northampton was too hot. So it is very difficult at times. When we came here, the first two days were very cold. But today it is bright and shinny. We had decent practice in the last game. No can complain. The batters did well and the bowlers bowled well. We are ready to play Test cricket," he said.

The forecast for the Test match though, is under heavy weather. The first three days of the game are expected to witness rain breaks with almost 80 per cent chances of rain predicted. Sarfraz though, was optimistic that they should get a good game of cricket. "The weather is not in our hands. It is very difficult to predict whether we will lose 2 days or 3 days. It would be bad for both the teams if there are rains. So, we would be hopeful that we can play well for four or five days."

While quizzed about the combination and the playing XI, Sarfraz was very candid in his response and also explained why Imam ul Haq will be preferred over Sami Aslam as an opener. Sami Aslam played in the game against Kent and missed out by scoring only 13. Pakistan were bowled out for 168 but Imam stole the show with a gritty 61 batting at No.3. He bolstered his chances by getting another fifty in the second innings against Northamptonshire. "Both Sami Aslam and Imam played against Kent in the first practice game. We thought who is playing better now should get a chance. The entire team management thought Imam is playing better and he also got two fifties in the practice games as well. That is why we will go with Imam."

Though Pakistan have already sorted out their playing XI, Sarfraz did not shy from ruing Yasir Shah's absence. However, he also backed Shadab Khan and hoped that the young leggie will try to deliver the goods in the absence of Yasir, who had a good outing in the lead-up to the Test match as he scalped a 10-fer against Northamptonshire after struggling a bit against Kent.

"Yasir Shah is a very experienced bowler. We all will miss him. But the good thing is that Shadab Khan bowled really well in the last tour match. He got 10 wickets against Northamptonshire, so hopefully Shadab will bowl well in the Test matches as well," he added.

PAKISTAN TEAM TO PLAY IRELAND: Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wkt), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali

HOW TEST NATIONS FARED ON THEIR DEBUTS

AUSTRALIA
First Test: 1877, Melbourne
Result: Beat England by 45 runs
ENGLAND
First Test: 1877, Melbourne
Result: Lost to Australia by 45 runs
Time of first win: 2 weeks, 2 Tests
SOUTH AFRICA
First Test: 1889, Port Elizabeth
Result: Lost to England by 8 wickets
Time of first win: 7 years, 12 Tests
WEST INDIES
First Test: 1928, Lord's
Result: Lost to England by an inns and 58 runs
Time of first win: 2 years, 6 Tests
NEW ZEALAND
First Test: 1930, Christchurch
Result: Lost to England by 8 wickets
Time of first win: 26 years, 45 Tests
INDIA
First Test: 1932, Lord's
Result: Lost to England by 158 runs
Time of first win: 20 years, 25 Tests
PAKISTAN
First Test: 1952, Delhi
Result: Lost to India by an inns and 70 runs
Time of first win: 1 week, two Tests
SRI LANKA
First Test: 1982, Colombo
Result: Lost to England by 7 wkts
Time of first win: 3 years, 14 Tests
ZIMBABWE
First Test: 1992, Harare
Result: Drew with India
Time of first win: 3 years, 11 Tests
BANGLADESH
First Test: 2000, Dhaka
Result: Lost to India by 9 wkts
Time of first win: 5 years, 35 Tests