Saturday 18 January 2020

Irish cricketers fall just short of famous Pakistan victory

Matt Somerford

Ireland fell agonisingly short of a first series win against a full-member nation following a two-wicket defeat to Pakistan in the second RSA Insurance one-day international in Dublin.

Ireland had seemed on course for an historic success until eighth-wicket pair Kamran Akmal (81) and Wahab Riaz (47 not out) smashed 93 in 62 balls to break home hearts.

Ed Joyce's first Ireland century had helped the hosts to 229 for nine on a seaming wicket before Pakistan folded to 17 for four in reply.

A giant-killing to match anything Ireland had achieved before appeared within their grasp until Kamran, who spent two seasons in Irish club cricket a decade ago, and Wahab launched their counter-attack.

When Kamran crunched Alex Cusack to the boundary to bring up his half-century Pakistan still required 81 from nine overs.

But when Wahab took 24 from Tim Murtagh's final over Pakistan needed just eight from 18 balls.

While Kamran did not see out the win, as he skied a catch to depart for 81 from 84 balls, Junaid Khan hit the winning runs with eight balls to spare.

It meant Ireland, who had been left deflated by the dramatic tie in Thursday's series opener, were left waiting for a first success over an elite nation in the Republic.

None of the Pakistan top four managed double figures to put Joyce's century, his second in ODIs after he hit 107 for England against Australia six years ago, into perspective.

Trent Johnston kickstarted Pakistan's collapse when he had Imran Farhat well snapped up by Kevin O'Brien low at second slip before Murtagh struck twice in the next over.

He trapped Nasir Jamshed in front without scoring before Mohammad Hafeez, a centurion on Thursday, feathered through to wicketkeeper Gary Wilson.

Ireland's tails were up and while Stirling dropped Misbah-ul-Haq at first slip, Kevin O'Brien made no mistake when Asad Shafiq nicked Johnston's next ball into a now-expectant cordon.

Pakistan were reeling a 17 for four and it could have been even worse when Shoaib Malik edged his first ball between keeper and slip.

Misbah and Malik began to look more assured in a 43-run stand before the skipper offered back a catch to Cusack to depart for 24.

George Dockrell then got the crucial wicket of Malik, after he had reached 43, to an lbw decision the Pakistani appeared unhappy with.

Kamran was left with the tail but with Wahab he found a willing ally as they turned the match away from the home side in a stunning late burst.

Earlier, Joyce was thrust into action almost immediately as Paul Stirling, who hit his second consecutive century against Pakistan on Thursday, failed to trouble the scorers.

Stirling spooned a leading edge to mid-wicket off Junaid and when skipper William Porterfield chased at debutant Asad Ali soon after Ireland were in early trouble at four for two.

Ali's first international spell of seven overs returned four maidens at a cost of just nine runs, but Joyce and Niall O'Brien nevertheless steadied matters in a watchful 65-run stand from 120 balls.

O'Brien's patience broke when he flashed a catch through to wicketkeeper Kamran off Wahab before Wilson's attempted sweep off Abdur Rehman ballooned up for Hafeez to take at slip.

Joyce and Kevin O'Brien finally got the innings rolling when they took 53 from the powerplay, taken at the start of the 34th over.

Joyce was dropped on 61 when Hafeez juggled four times at gully and Pakistan were made to pay as nine boundaries came in the five-over restrictions - one more than Ireland had managed until then.

But when the field dropped back O'Brien picked out Jamshed in the deep after hitting 38 from 48 balls.

Ireland then lost momentum but Joyce remained assured and brought up his century by swatting Rehman, who took four for 48 in his first international match since he was banned for testing positive to cannabis, over the ropes.

PA Media

The Left Wing: Leinster's weak point, Johann van Graan's future and Doris vs Deegan

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport