If not for Kamran Akmal’s and Wahab Riaz’s heroics, Pakistan would have handed Ireland honour of becoming first Non-Test playing team to win a series against Test team. Akmal (81 off 85 balls) forestalled the collapse and steered the chase whereas Riaz provided the finishing touch with a late surge, 47 off 35 balls. The duo helped Pakistan winning the match by two wickets and series 1-0. No matter how good they batted, it will be looked more as a face saving effort than a series-winning.
Ireland had shockingly reduced Pakistan to 17-4 in the tenth over in chase of 230. The top order – Imran Farhat (5), Nasir Jamshed (0), Mohammad Hafeez (2), Asad Shafiq (4) – failed to cope the movement boasted by the new balls. Misbah-ul-Haq (24) and Shoaib Malik (43) offered some resistance, but even with that the chances of Pakistan win appeared slim.
Pakistan needed 89 runs to win in last ten overs with only three wickets in hand. Akmal, who hit 11 fours and two sixes, most of which came in the last overs of game, was the main architect of what turned out to be a remarkable chase. Riaz, who was expensive earlier with bowl, compensated the economy with arguably his best batting display of career. He hit 4 fours and as many sixes. Akmal got out in the 48th over with a boundary away from win. Riaz saw Pakistan through in the penultimate over with eight balls to spare.
Ireland earlier scored 229 in the first innings, mainly relying on the centurion Ed Joyce, scoring unbeaten 116 off 132 balls aided by 12 fours and a six. The Irish innings was build on Joyce’s effort as the next highest score was 38, by Kevin O’Brein.
The telling blow
Ireland were in pole position until the end of 44th over when Pakistan needed 57 to win from 36 balls at Run Rate slightly below ten. Wahab Riaz hit couple of boundaries and a six to Alex Cusack and evened up the contest. Two overs later, he extracted whopping 24 runs from an over by Tim Murtagh, who until then had conceded only 30 from his nine overs. Riaz took a double off first ball and then hit six, six, dot, four and six. The equation for Pakistan suddenly became 8 from 18 and now they were in pole position.
Ali’s unique start to career
Asad Ali became Pakistan’s 191st ODI Cricketer when he was handed debut. He kicked off his career in a way hardly seen before. He didn’t conceded a run until 21st ball of his career, bowling three maidens on the trot – a possible record by a debutant. For good measures, he also grabbed a wicket in his second over. After three overs, his figures were 3-3-0-1 and he ended innings with 10-4-22-1.
Pakistan record for least runs conceded on debut, when bowled ten or more overs, is by Abdur Rehman (20 runs against West Indies at Faisalabad 2006).
Ed Joyce hit second century in One Day Internationals but it was his first for Ireland. The previous one came for England against Australia at Sydney 2007. In doing so, Joyce became only second batsman – after Eoin Morgan – to score ODI centuries for two different teams. Interestingly, Morgan’s centuries have also come for either Ireland or England.
Wahab Riaz’s 47 is highest score by a number 9 Pakistan batsman in ODI chases. Previous best was 45, by Aaqib Javed against South Africa in 1996, which was in a losing cause.
Abdur Rehman was Pakistan’s best bowler of the day, taking 4 wickets for 48 in his ten. What many left unnoticed was it was his first international match after serving the ban imposed by ECB for usage of recreational drugs last year. He had not played for Pakistan in nine months.
Man of the Match and Series
Kamran Akmal earned Man of the Match whereas the series award went to Kevin O’Brein.
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