Cool head Joyce leads Ireland to victory
Ed Joyce kept a cool head to record an unbeaten century and steer Ireland to a four-wicket victory over the United Arab Emirates in Dubai yesterday as the Boys in Green ensured new coach Graham Ford got off to a winning start.
Joyce and Gary Wilson shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 131 to take Ireland from 91-5 to the brink of victory after a controlled bowling performance had restricted the home side to 222-9 in the first of four ODIs in a tri-series that also includes Scotland.
Wilson was out for 53, from 83 balls, with the scores level, leaving his 39-year-old partner to strike the winning boundary from the second ball of the final over. Joyce's 116 not out, contained 13 fours and a six from 149 balls. His 10th century for Ireland was reminiscent of his second, when a battling 115 not out secured a two-wicket victory over the UAE in Belfast in 2005.
"It's difficult to come out of our winter and straight away hit our straps having been indoors," Joyce said. "It's great to get the win and back up the series victory over Afghanistan before Christmas and keep that winning streak going.
"I didn't realise I'd passed 10,000 List-A runs but I have been playing a long time. It felt great to get the hundred. I didn't feel in great nick going into the game but I felt in physically good shape and that hasn't been the case for a while.
"Myself and Gary ensured we got over the line with a very mature partnership after a few soft dismissals - but you'll get that with the players being a little rusty. We'll tighten up the batting and the first 10 overs with the ball and improve in the games ahead."
While Joyce again underlined just how important he will be to hopes of winning a place in next year's World Cup at the qualifiers in Zimbabwe in March, fast bowler Boyd Rankin won his 100th cap and wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien's five catches were an ODI record for Ireland.
Meanwhile, the U19s saw their World Cup warm-up against Canada rained off in Christchurch. Harry Tector's side start their campaign against Sri Lanka on Sunday.