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O'Brien's ton overshadowed as controversy rumbles on

By Ian Callender

The last match of the one-day series against Afghanistan was supposed to be all about Kevin O'Brien, who today becomes the first to play in 100 ODIs for Ireland.

But the events in the sixth over of Ireland's innings on Sunday continue to dominate the build-up and the ICC have not helped matters by failing to issue a statement yesterday, following the controversial run-out of Ed Joyce in the 79-run defeat.

Photographs appeared to show that Mohammad Nabi was behind the line when his hand touched the ball inside the rope. Joyce certainly thought so and did not attempt a third run. But Rashid Khan, having retrieved the ball, threw it back to the middle where the bails were removed and the Afghans appealed for the run-out.

Umpire Alan Neill told me yesterday: "After speaking to my colleague, I spoke to the fielder and asked him had he prevented the four. He said 'yes'. I then asked 'were you in control of the ball when you were outside the rope?' He said 'no sir'. I went over to my colleague and said 'we have a problem here'.

"He said 'ask him again' so I repeated the same two questions and got the same two answers. He was adamant he had not touched the ball while he was outside the rope.

"So we had to take his word and had to give Ed Joyce out."

I understand that match referee David Jukes was talking to the Afghanistan players and officials yesterday but was not in a position to release a statement last night. That is expected today when Ireland must win to level the series at 2-2, but the Afghans are sure to retain their lead in the rankings table.

Niall O'Brien returned from injury to play for Leicestershire in the Twenty20 Blast game on Sunday but Cricket Ireland confirmed yesterday that they "have not made any changes to our squad". John Anderson, who has missed the last two matches because of concussion, will undergo an independent medical assessment this morning.

Meanwhile, the conclusion of the AJG semi-final between CIYMS and Carrickfergus gets under way today at Belmont (5.30pm). It is a third and final attempt to play the game - with a bowl-out to decide who plays Civil Service North in the final if the rain arrives - and CI include former Ireland international Derek Heasley in place of John Matchett, who is on tour as captain of Ulster Schools.

• England have called in the cavalry as they seek to regroup in the second Investec Test against Pakistan.

The predictable returns of fit-again James Anderson and Ben Stokes were confirmed yesterday in a 14-man squad also containing extra spinner Adil Rashid.

England's selectors travel with both Rashid and Moeen Ali vying for the spinner's spot, or to play alongside one another if conditions dictate.

After leg-spinner Yasir Shah bowled Pakistan to victory at Lord's, coach Trevor Bayliss said: "I've always thought of playing two spinners (at home) at some stage," he said. "It's definitely a possibility."

Belfast Telegraph


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