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Match Report
Ger Siggins

Ireland came desperately close to beating Pakistan and becoming the first Associate team to win a series against a Full Member at Clontarf.

With their backs to the wall, a breathtaking partnership by Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz blew Ireland out of the water in front of a ground packed with supporters, many of whom were supporting the visitors.

A visitor from Mars - or ICC - wouldn't have known which was the test side for much of the game as Ireland traded blows with the famous Asian tigers.

But in one destructive over the game completely switched direction.

Bowling down the hill at the Killester End - though it seemed more like the Karachi End yesterday - Tim Murtagh suddenly lost control of the line and length that has made him the leading bowler in England this summer.

Pakistan needed 32 off four overs when Wahab Riaz smashed him for three 6s and a 4 in six balls that yielded 24 precious runs.

In all the pair added 93 off just 62 balls to ensure victory.

"Two special innings took it away from us", admitted Kevin O'Brien, who took the man of the series award for his runs in both games and three stunning catches yesterday.

Ireland had a special innings of their own to enjoy earlier.

Ed Joyce walked to the wicket after just five balls of the innings, and left it unbeaten 49.1 overs later. His career best 116 was an innings of high quality from a player who became only the second man to make an ODI century for two countries.

And the first was also an Irishman, Eoin Morgan.

Joyce played 17 ODIs for England and scored a match-winning 107 against Australia at the SCG in January 2007.

But back with his native land since the 2011 World Cup, he has brought class and experience to the side.

Pakistan's debutant Asad Ali quickly showed his great promise as Ireland were reduced to 4-2.

But the experienced southpaws Joyce and Niall O'Brien were the ideal in that situation and battled their way to 69.

O'Brien fell to Wahab and Wilson perished soon after, but Joyce found a steady partner in the younger O'Brien.

Kevin has often been accused of inconsistency, but he continued here as he finished Thursday's tie.

He played several powerful drives and was looking set to make his first back-to-back ODI fifties since before the 2007 World Cup when he holed out on the boundary.

Joyce rode his luck - an entertaining juggling act from Mohammed Hafeez spilled to earth after five attempts when he was on 61. O'Brien's departure seemed to cause panic in the Irish lower order and four wickets fell for 11 but Tim Murtagh hung around long enough to see his former Middlesex colleague into three figures, which Joyce raised with his only six, over midwicket.

Ireland had switched pitches two days before the game, banking on a greener track to negate the Pakistan spinners. The 7,000 bill for moving the scaffolding and grandstands looked money well spent until those last ten overs. Trent Johnston and Murtagh played havoc with the Pakistan top-order, reducing them to 17-4. That score could have been even more ridiculous had two catches not been dropped off Johnston to dismiss Misbah and Shoaib before they had scored.

But experienced players such as the Pakistan middle order have been in this position before and battled their way back with stands of 43, 52 and 21. Misbah and Shoaib were able to settle in when the Irish openers were removed and the pressure slipped a little.

George Dockrell turned back on the heat with a spell of 8-2-16-1, but by the time he came back for his last two Kamran was eyeing up the ropes.

Skipper William Porterfield knows how close his team came to a historic series victory: "We're pretty dejected at the minute because of the position we got ourselves in. We're very disappointed not to win."

Photographs
Castle Avenue, Clontarf