Andy Balbirnie scored a superb 77 from 55 balls to set up a stunning five-wicket victory over Pakistan at Clontarf last night that gives Ireland a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three T20 international series.

The Boys in Green bowled and fielded tenaciously to restrict the tourists to 182-6 on the fast-scoring Castle Avenue ground, and after a couple of early losses Balbirnie paced the chase masterfully as he found 10 fours and two maximums.

But the opener was far from Ireland’s only hero in what must be their most impressive T20 victory to date, and one that comes against a team they will meet again next month in Group A of the World Cup.

Harry Tector, George Dockrell, Gareth Delany and especially Curtis Campher all played key roles in the sunshine as Ireland got home with a ball to spare.

Tector looked in sublime touch, stroking 36, including three fours and strong-armed six over mid-wicket, as he helped Balbirnie add 77 for the third wicket, and Dockrell then picked up the pace with a bludgeoning 24 from only 12 balls.

With 40 required from the final four overs, Dockrell spooned one into the covers making way for Delany to assist Balbirnie with a key boundary in another crucial phase.

The odds swung back to Pakistan when the man-of-the-match missed a full toss and was bowled by Shaheen Afridi with 16 still required from eight but Campher impishly scooped his first ball to the third man boundary and took a single to finish the over.

Another Campher deflection past the keeper and a clip backward of square drew the scores level, and a scampered leg bye sparked celebrations in the home camp.

“We weren’t sure of the conditions here, so we asked them to bat first,” skipper Paul Stirling said. “We were pretty happy chasing 180-ish although at one stage it looked like it would be 170 before we leaked a few at the end.

“It was a brilliant knock from Balbo. He timed it to perfection, got through the powerplay and then scored boundaries for us at just the right time. It was a fantastic effort.”

Stirling, whose attacking, spirited brand of cricket has galvanised Ireland since he took over the white-ball captaincy, will claim a famous series victory if Ireland can win again tomorrow or on Tuesday.