Joyce turns up heat as Ireland win to tie series
Ed Joyce had the final say in the heated series between Ireland and Afghanistan with a superb unbeaten 160 as Ireland bounced back for the second time to tie the series at 2-2
Two days after Joyce was run out by a throw from the boundary, which should have been signalled four after Mohammad Nabi touched it while his feet were behind the rope, Nabi was given an official reprimand by the match referee after accepting a charge of bringing the game into disrepute.
Significantly, the Afghan all-rounder accepted the charge so a formal hearing did not take place.
Joyce admitted he had extra motivation to play a match-winning innings but even he could not have dreamt just how well he would bat as he, again almost single-handedly, ensured a 12 runs victory at Stormont.
His majestic innings was his highest score in 288 one-day games for county or country and in his new role as Ireland opener he faced 148 balls, which included 19 fours and three sixes.
No-one was in his class on the hottest day of the year in this country although he was delighted that Gary Wilson, promoted to the problem position of number four, returned to form in a superb third wicket stand of 134.
"I was actually pretty tired coming into the game but the niggle in the last game gave me extra motivation," admitted Joyce.
"It was a good toss for them to win, and it should have been difficult for us in the first 10-15 overs but their bowlers didn't get it right, bowling a number of wides and a few freebies.
"Gary played brilliantly in that position and in the last eight overs we scored 80 runs which were vital.
"There was some niggle, I don't mind that, it gets you going. They play their cricket tough, but there were some borderline decisions in the last game and again today which we aren't particularly happy about, but hopefully some strong match refereeing will come into play."
The umpires had to talk to both captains more than once throughout the game but this time the overriding memory will be a good one.
Only twice before has Joyce scored more in an Ireland innings - his two double centuries last year in the Intercontinental Cup - as the 37-year-old seemingly gets better with age.
The only worry moving forward is that Ireland become too dependent on their number one batsman.
Only Wilson could stay with him yesterday as captain William Porterfield played a loose shot in the fifth over and was caught at second slip and Sean Terry scored four from 15 balls before he gave a return catch to Mohammad Yamin, who bowled eight of the 12 wides in the innings.
It wasn't to be Kevin O'Brien's day with the bat, on his 100th ODI appearance.
He holed out to deep mid-wicket and when Paul Stirling was yorked, Ireland had lost three wickets in successive overs.
But Joyce was still there and with Stuart Poynter, looking much more comfortable at number seven, cleverly giving Joyce the strike, the pair - well, Joyce mainly - added 71, with Poynter's contribution just 12.
This was the only time that Ireland had batted first this summer and they had won only one of the previous nine ODIs when defending a total.
However, they could not have wished for a better start with Barry McCarthy and Peter Chase both taking a wicket in their first over and Tim Murtagh in his third to leave Afghanistan 28 for three in the 10th over.
That became 119 for six in the 32nd over and Ireland were in a formidable position.
But the 'leftie' which Porterfield feared in this series, Najibullah Zadran, and Rashid Khan, the leg spinner who was Afghanistan's most expensive bowler yesterday, proceeded to add 93 from just 81 balls to get the tourists to within 54 of victory and still four overs left.
The momentum was with Afghanistan. But three balls later it was Ireland in control as three wickets fell without addition to the score as both 'set' batsmen were caught on the boundary.
Murtagh was brought back to bowl the last over with 33 still required.
Five wides to start and two fours and a six followed but by then it was too late.
Ireland could celebrate victory but Joyce will need more help next month against Pakistan!
W Porterfield c Rahmut b Mirwais 8
E Joyce not out 160
S Terry c and b Yamin 4
G Wilson c Nabi b Dawlat 58
K O'Brien c Najibullah b Nabi 1
P Stirling b Dawlat 2
S Poynter not out 12
Extras (2lb 18w) 20
Total (5 wkts, 50 overs) 265
Did not bat: A McBrine, B McCarthy, T Murtagh, P Chase
Fall: 1-27 2-44 3-178 4-184 5-194
Bowling: Mohammad Yamin 8-0-63-1, Dawlat Zadran 10-0-49-2, Mirwais Ashraf 8-2-22-1, Mohammad Nabi 9-0-38-1, Rahmat Shah 2-0-12-0, Rashid Khan 10-0-68-0, Gulbadin Naib 3-1-11-0
Mohammad Shahzad c Chase b McCarthy 7
Javed Ahmadi c Stirling b Murtagh 3
Rahmat Shah lbw b O'Brien 30
Gulbadin Naib b Chase 2
Ashgar Stanikzai c sub b McCarthy 32
Mohammad Nabi b Chase 25
Najibullah c Wilson b O'Brien 54
Rashid Khan c O'Brien b Stirling 40
Mirwais Ashraf c Chase b O'Brien 0
Dawlat Zadran not out 31
Mohammad Yamin not out 3
Extras (1b 7lb 18w) 26
Total (9 wkts, 50 overs) 253
Fall: 1-10 2-13 3-27 4-64 5-99 6-119 7-212 8-212 9-212
Bowling: T Murtagh 7-1-34-1, B McCarthy 6-0-21-2, P Chase 10-0-39-2, K O'Brien 10-0-57-3, A McBrine 10-0-47-0, P Stirling 7-0-47-1
Ireland won by 12 runs