Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ireland claim famous T20I victory over Pakistan

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IRELAND HAVE RECORDED a famous T20I victory over Pakistan. It was the first time the two sides had played a T20I in 15 years, and in front of a sell-out Clontarf crowd the home fans revelled in an Irish victory under bright blue skies in Dublin.

Set 183 for victory, Ireland got over the line with five wickets in hand and one ball to spare thanks largely to a stunning innings from Andrew Balbirnie as the hosts took 100 runs from their final 10 overs.

Balbirnie’s 77 came from 55 balls, including 10 fours and two sixes, in what will go down as one of Ireland’s greatest men’s T20I knocks.

The former white-ball captain shared a 139-run partnership with George Dockrell (24), before Gareth Delany (10*) and Curtis Campher (15*) saw their side over the line.

Having won the toss and opted to bowl first, captain Paul Stirling would have been delighted as Harry Tector instigated an early breakthrough with a superb piece of fielding.

Racing in from mid-on, Tector found Mohammad Rizwan short of his ground, leaving Pakistan 7-1 in just the second over.

That wicket brought touring captain Babar Azam to the crease, who soon set about building an excellent partnership with Saim Ayub.

The pair put on an 85-run stand for the second wicket until Gareth Delany removed Ayub (45), who hauled out to Curtis Campher in the deep.

Azam, ranked fourth in the ICC’s T20I batting rankings soon brought up a 35th half century in this format from just 39 balls. But he wouldn’t last much longer, departing for 57 at the hands of Craig Young.

It was the start of a fighting comeback from Ireland in the final overs of Pakistan’s innings as the North West Warriors seamer made it two for the over when Azam Khan was caught by Ben White for a duck two deliveries later.

Barry McCarthy then ran out Shadab Khan in the following over, as the tourists lost five wickets for 31 runs, slumping from 92-1 to 123-5. Mark Adair also picked up a wicket, with Pakistan eventually closing on 182-6 from their 20 overs.

Stirling launched Naseem Shah out of the ground in the second over as the Ireland captain looked to make a rapid start to the run-chase but perished to the same bowler at the end of the same over.

Lorcan Tucker also succumbed in the powerplay as Ireland closed the first six overs of their reply on 43-2.

Balbirnie and Tector then led the recovery. The pair scored all around the wicket, reaching a 50-run partnership in only 32 balls and giving their side a fighting chance of victory at the back end of the innings.

An 11th T20I half century for Balbirnie came at the start of the 12th over, but Tector eventually fell for 36 off the bowling of Imad Wasim. That ended a 77-run stand for the third wicket but, with the score 103-4, it left Ireland well in the game, requiring 79 from 43 balls.

The introduction of Dockrell only added momentum. He hit two sixes in Shadab Khan’s fourth and final over, which went for 23, as Ireland kept their foot on the pedal.

Dockrell’s hitting was immense in making 24 from only 12 balls in an innings that also saw the all-rounder pass 1,000 T20I runs.

By the time Balbirnie eventually departed in the penultimate over, Ireland still required 16 from eight. An audacious reverse scoop for four from Curtis Campher’s first ball set the tone for the dramatic finish as he and Delany knocked off the remaining runs with a ball to spare.

The second T20I takes place at the same venue on Sunday before Tuesday’s third and final match of the series.

Match summary:

Pakistan 182-6 (20 overs; B Azam 57, A Ayub 45, I Ahmed 37*; C Young 2-27, G Delany 1-11, M Adair 1-40)

Ireland 183-5 (19.5 overs; A Balbirnie 77, H Tector 36, G Dockrell 24; A Afridi 2-36) 

Ireland won by 5 wickets

Report courtesy of Cricket Ireland 

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