Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ireland fail to shake Pakistan off despite batting excellence as T20 series goes to wire

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Graham Hume of Ireland celebrates with Curtis Campher after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Babar Azam

Pakistan players Mohammad Rizwan and Azam Khan following their side’s hard-fought victory over Ireland

thumbnail: Graham Hume of Ireland celebrates with Curtis Campher after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Babar Azam
thumbnail: Pakistan players Mohammad Rizwan and Azam Khan following their side's hard-fought victory over Ireland

Lorcan Tucker top-scored with 51 in another impressive batting display by Ireland at Clontarf on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Pakistan winning by seven wickets and levelling the three-match T20 international series.

While openers Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie were both out in the fourth over of the Ireland innings, the aggressive intent and execution of those who followed brought 23 fours and six maximums for the Boys in Green in a total of 193-7.

Tucker claimed two of the sixes and didn’t once take a backward step in his 34-ball innings, while Harry Tector purred his way to 32 in a 62-run partnership with Tucker and Friday’s last-over hero Curtis Campher struck two maximums from the 13 balls he faced.

George Dockrell, another middle-order belter who looks in prime form ahead of June’s T20 World Cup, stepped away to leg to plunder boundaries through the off in a quickfire 15 that maintained the momentum.

Ireland were relentless; Gareth Delany hit the other two sixes in his 28 not out from 10, Mark Adair found the boundary with his first two shots, and amid the carnage, Shaheen Afridi, one of the world’s most feared white-ball bowlers, leaked 49 runs from four overs.

Did they have enough to defend on the fast-scoring Castle Avenue ground?

Not by a long way, despite Adair striking in his first over and skipper Babar Azam edging Graham Hume behind in the next.

Two dropped chances in the space of six balls didn’t help the home cause, as Mohammad Rizwan got a life on 31, and his partner Fakhar Zaman, who made 78 of a match-winning stand of 140, was put down on 26.

“The missed catches cost us a little bit,” skipper Stirling said.

“It’s important to take those opportunities, but overall, I’m pretty happy with our energy, and I don’t think there is any major cause for concern.”

Rizwan finished up unbeaten on 75 when a storm of four sixes from Azam Khan got Pakistan home with 19 balls to spare, but Ireland must know that with this cohesion and dynamic approach, they have every chance of taking the series in the decider on Tuesday.

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