Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pakistan dominate Ireland to clinch T20 series

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Pakistan wrapped up a 2-1 T20 international men’s series win against Ireland in front of a sell-out crowd at Clontarf, easing to victory by six wickets with 18 balls remaining.

The sides will meet again at the T20 World Cup finals in Florida next month and the manner of defeat will give the Irish selectors plenty to think about in the lead up, following Friday’s historic win and defeats on Sunday and today.

On a warm May day, Pakistan won the toss and decided to put Ireland in to bat. The home side surprisingly rested captain Paul Stirling, with Lorcan Tucker skippering the side for the first time and Ross Adair brought in to open the innings as Stirling’s replacement.

Gareth Delany was left out as a precaution due to a groin injury as Neil Rock played for the first time in the series.

Irish openers Andrew Balbirnie and Ross Adair put on 15 before Adair was bowled for 7 in the third over by Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Lorcan Tucker joined Balbirnie in the middle and immediately showed good aggressive intent, the stand-in captain reaching his second successive half century off 29 deliveries, in a fine knock featuring 8 fours and a six.

At the other end, Balbirnie had reached 35 as he and Tucker added 85 for the second wicket before he was brilliantly caught in the deep by the diving Mohammad Rizwan off Abbas Afridi’s bowling. Ireland were on exactly 100 for 2 in the 11th over.

Harry Tector, in at four, hit a six off the first delivery he faced as he and Tucker moved the score to 132 in the 13th over before Tucker perished for a fine 73 runs, caught at deep extra cover by Saim Ayub off the bowling of spinner Imad Wasim.

First-time captain Lorcan Tucker hit 73

Neil Rock was elevated up the order, coming in after Tucker’s dismissal to join Tector in the middle, but was quickly out for 3.

Ireland, at 137 for 4, brought in George Dockrell but he was back in the pavilion having scored just 6 as the Pakistan bowlers started to get on top towards the end of the Ireland innings.

Tector remained unbeaten on 30 but he began to run out of partners as Curtis Campher (1) and Mark Adair (1) were quickly on their way.

Graham Hume (10 not out) and Tector helped Ireland to 178 for 7 off their 20 overs, Shaheen Shah Afridi was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers taking three for 17 off his 4 overs.

In reply, Pakistan openers Ayub and Rizwan made 16 before Ayub skied one off Mark Adair’s bowling and was caught by George Dockrell at short fine leg for 14.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam arrived at the crease as Rizwan got into the Irish attack, reaching his half century off 30 balls while Azam – dropped by Dockrell on 23 – also raced past 50, hitting the unfortunate Ben White for 25 runs in the 14th over, which included four huge 6s.

Rizwan eventually went for 56 and Azam for 75, putting Pakistan in sight of victory, which they completed at the end of the 17th over to win by six wickets.

Pakistan players celebrate with the trophy

A clear victory but captain on the day Tucker took some silver linings from the performance over the series.

“Pakistan really showed their class in the last couple of games,” he told RTÉ Sport. “We started the series really well, but then they got on top.

“There were plenty of positives from our side. We showed great intent and skill at stages.

“Some of the bowling was outstanding, on what is a traditionally a really hard ground to defend. Our power-play bowling as brilliant.

“It is about trying to recognise the positives.”

Ireland now head to the Netherlands for a four-match series, which also involves Scotland, in Amsterdam while Pakistan head to England to continue their World Cup preparations.

Ireland 178-7 (20 overs; L Tucker 73, A Balbirnie 35, H Tector 30*; S Afridi 3-14, A Afridi 2-43)

Pakistan 181-4 (17 overs; B Azam 75, M Rizwan 56; M Adair 3-28, C Young 1-49)

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