Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Ireland chase historic victory

Ed Joyce has helped put Ireland in a strong position

Ireland ripped through Pakistan's top order as they sought to claim a first-ever series win against a full-member nation in the second RSA one-day international in Dublin.

After Ed Joyce's unbeaten century helped the Irish post 229 for nine their bowlers went to work on a green-tinged pitch offering seam movement.

New-ball pair Trent Johnston and Tim Murtagh made full use as they reduced Pakistan to 74 for five after 25 overs. It could have been even better for the hosts with Shoaib Malik, unbeaten on 23, surviving a missed chance from his first ball.

After both Ireland openers exited inside the first four overs the 34-year-old left-hander remained thereafter to hit an unbeaten 116 from 132 balls. It was Joyce's second ODI century after he scored 107 for England against Australia six years ago. It gave Ireland something to defend and they got off to the perfect start with the ball as Pakistan's top order folded.

Johnston kickstarted the 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, the centurion from Thursday's tied game, 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 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 Alex Cusack and leave Ireland on the brink of an historic success.

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 Khan and when skipper William Porterfield chased at debutant Asad Ali soon after Ireland were in early trouble at four for two.

Misbah had sent them in on a tricky wicket, changed from the run-filled surface used in the opener, and Ireland initially plodded along as ball regularly beat bat. 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.

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 Nasir 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 Abdur Rehman, who took four for 48 in his first international match since be was banned for testing positive to cannabis, over the ropes.

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