Monday, May 27, 2024

Two dropped Ireland catches cost rare series win against Pakistan

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Pakistan beat Ireland by seven wickets in Clontarf yesterday evening, levelling the series at 1-1 and turning tomorrow’s third and final match into a winner-takes-all decider.

Batting first, Ireland made 193-7 from their 20 overs, the highest total recorded at Clontarf Cricket Club and their best score in T20Is against Pakistan.

It wasn’t enough, however, as the visitors’ star-studded side romped home thanks to a 140- run partnership between Mohammad Rizwan (75*) and Fakhar Zaman (78), with both batters dropped earlier in their innings on 30 and 28 respectively within the space of six balls by the same fielder.

Graham Hume of Ireland, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Babar Azam during match two of the Floki Men’s T20 International Series between Ireland and Pakistan at Castle Avenue Cricket Ground in Dublin. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The start of play was delayed due to rain over Dublin 3. When the toss was able to take place, Pakistan captain Babar Azam elected to field.

Both teams made one change from Ireland’s victory in Friday’s first game, with the hosts bringing in Graham Hume for Barry McCarthy and the tourists selecting Mohammad Amir in the place of Shadab Khan.

Making his 390th appearance for Ireland, captain Paul Stirling surpassed Kevin O’Brien as Ireland’s most capped player across all formats, and soon set about taking the attack to Pakistan’s bowlers.

He and fellow opener Andrew Balbirnie, whose 77 in the first match was crucial in securing a famous win for the Irish, raced to 29 from the first three overs, before Stirling (11) was superbly caught off the bowling of Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Ireland were further pegged back when Afridi removed Balbirnie two deliveries later. Then things looked bleak when Harry Tector was given out lbw to Naseem Shah with the next ball.

Ireland Cricket
Shaheen Shah Afridi of Pakistan, right, celebrates with teammate Iftikhar Ahmad after taking the wicket of Ireland’s Harry Tector during match two of the Floki Men’s T20 International Series between Ireland and Pakistan at Castle Avenue Cricket Ground in Dublin. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The 24-year-old was handed a reprieve, however, after Shah was shown to have overstepped the line with his front foot.

Tector went on to make 32 from 28 deliveries, sharing a 62- run stand with Lorcan Tucker for the fourth wicket. Tucker went on to register a seventh T20I half century from just 32 balls and was well supported by a rapid-fire knock of 22 from Curtis Campher, who launched Afridi for two huge sixes in the same over before succumbing to Amir.

Ireland Cricket
Craig Young of Ireland drops a catch during match two of the Floki Men’s T20 International Series between Ireland and Pakistan at Castle Avenue Cricket Ground in Dublin. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Further late hitting was provided by first Mark Adair (15) and then Gareth Delany (28) as Ireland set Pakistan 194.

Despite Saim Ayub smashing a six from the second delivery of the over, Adair immediately struck the next ball to give Ireland a third-ball breakthrough.

By the time Hume had Azam caught behind the following over, Pakistan were reduced to 13-2 and Ireland had made a dream start.

But once they had been given those reprieves in the outfield by Hume, Rizwan and Zaman thwarted any hopes of further early scalps, with the latter particularly destructive in his innings of 78 from 40 balls – a knock that included six fours and six more sixes.

The 15th-over departure of Zaman only saw Rizwan kick on. The 31-year-old showed why he is ranked third-best T20I batter in the world with a 46- ball 75 which helped his team to victory with 19 balls to spare.

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