Ireland fury as controversial Joyce run-out helps put Afghans ahead
Ed Joyce was the victim of a horribly controversial run out as Ireland slipped to a bitter 79-run defeat by Afghanistan in Belfast yesterday to trail 2-1 in the best of five one-day international series, with one game to play.
The Boys in Green again bowled first and restricted the visitors to 229-7, the lowest of their three totals in the series, but hopes of a second victory for Ireland suffered a fatal blow when Joyce was unfairly sent on his way for 12 in the sixth over.
Ireland's best batsman, who had notched an unbeaten century in Thursday's win, stroked what should have been his third boundary through the covers and watched as former Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi patted the ball back to a fielding colleague when clearly over the boundary.
Joyce stopped running and was in the middle of the pitch when the ball was returned to keeper Mohammad Shazad who took off the bails. The Afghans celebrated wildly and refused to withdraw their appeal when asked if they wished to by the umpires.
Joyce's mood, after a disgruntled trudge back to the Stormont pavilion, would not have been helped by the rapid circulation on social media of a photo showing Nabi, a vastly experienced international cricketer, with his right foot and left knee grounded on the wrong side of the rope as he touched the ball.
"When Ed and I crossed, he said it was four and stopped running," said opening partner and Ireland captain William Porterfield. "The fielder said he had saved the four and we have to take his word for it."
While Joyce and the rest of the Ireland camp maintained a diplomatic silence on the Nabi's honesty - sometimes fielders genuinely don't know whether they have transgressed or not - the question must be asked why neither umpire saw what had happened?
After losing Joyce, Ireland crumbled to 67-4 and despite a couple of rearguard efforts from Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling, who made 34 and 31 respectively, the home side were eventually dismissed for 150 at the end of the 41st over.
Meanwhile, YMCA will be in the hat alongside Merrion when the draw for the semi-finals of the Irish Senior Cup is made tomorrow after beating CIYMS by 46 runs at Claremont Road.
But there was disappointment for North County and Phoenix who lost in yesterday's quarter-finals to Waringstown and Instonians respectively.