Joyce hits blistering ton to gain some revenge on Afghanistan
Ed Joyce produced the perfect riposte to his unfair dismissal on Sunday by striking a magnificent career-best 160 not out as Ireland beat Afghanistan by 12 runs to earn a 2-2 draw at the end of a five-match one-day international series in Belfast.
Joyce maintained a dignified silence after being run out by Afghanistan in the most controversial of circumstances in the fourth game, but back at Stormont again yesterday every boundary of his fifth ODI century shouted the injustice he was clearly still feeling.
The 37-year-old opener lifted three sixes and stroked 19 fours as he batted through the innings to give Ireland a total of 265-5 - the highest of the four completed games - before three wickets from Kevin O'Brien helped restrict the visitors to 253-9 in reply.
"The niggle in the last game and what happened there gave me some extra motivation - I don't mind a bit of niggle," said Joyce, who was awarded Man of the Series for his 339 runs at an astonishing average of 169.5.
"Afghanistan play tough cricket. There were one or two borderline incidents in the last game and again here. I don't think we were blameless, either. Perhaps we rose to the bait a bit too much. We need strong match refereeing in series like this"
After the early departures of William Porterfield and Sean Terry, the meat of the Ireland innings came in a third-wicket partnership of 134 in 30.4 overs between Joyce and Gary Wilson, who ended a poor run of form with a battling 58, including five fours and a maximum.
Two victims apiece for Peter Chase and Barry McCarthy pegged back the Afghan chase but a seventh-wicket stand of 93 from only 13.3 overs gave Ireland a few palpitations late on before O'Brien grabbed two wickets in as many balls to calm nerves.
It will never be known if Joyce's dismissal on Sunday affected the result of the fourth match in the series but that defeat did ensure Ireland could not win the series and by doing so leapfrog Afghanistan in the ICC's rankings.
Joyce confirmed that Mohammad Nabi had not spoken to him - never mind apologised - for Sunday's incident but Nabi has been reprimanded by ICC match referee David Jukes for falsely claiming he had not crossed the boundary before completing the run out.
Meanwhile, the draw for the semi-finals of the Irish Senior Cup has handed Merrion a home tie against YMCA on August 13 with the winners to meet either Waringstown or Instonians in the final.