Belfast: Australia leg-spin hope and possible Ashes call-up Fawad Ahmed went wicketless in his first representative bowling stint for his adopted country on Sunday.
The former Pakistani asylum-seeker, who did not bat in Australia's A first innings 312 for 9 declared against Ireland in Belfast, returned figures of none for 40 in 11 overs as the hosts made 186 for 4 declared on the third day of four at Stormont.
However, the 31-year-old's control hinted at better things to come. The prospects of Ahmed playing full international cricket for his adopted country improved dramatically when a bill to amend the Citizenship Act, which will help fast-track his application, passed through Australia's lower house of parliament earlier this month.
Cricket Australia said that if the bill should become law, and Ahmed obtains citizenship and an Australian passport, he will immediately be available for the national side.
Australia will bid to regain the Ashes from arch-rivals England in a five-match series starting with next month's first Test in Nottingham. Nathan Lyon is currently the only spinner in Australia's 16-man Ashes squad.
Ahmed played three Sheffield Shield games for Victoria late last season and took 16 wickets at 28.37, bringing him to the notice of Australian selectors. In Belfast, Australia's first innings featured a hundred from Steven Smith before Middlesex's Paul Stirling made 115 for Ireland.
The tourists declared their second innings on 174 without loss, Nic Maddinson making an unbeaten 113.
At the close, Ireland A were 51 for 3, needing a further 250 runs to win on Monday's final day but with Stirling, stumped by Brad Haddin off the bowling of offspinner Lyon in the first innings, caught behind for just six off seamer James Pattinson.
Ahmed has yet to bowl in Ireland A's second innings.