Pak-Irland Crciket Match

Cricket IrlandIreland  need to  defeat one of the elite Full Member nations at home but they cannot come any closer. Set 276 in 47 overs to beat Pakistan in the first one-day international at a bitterly cold Clontarf, history almost repeated itself as Kevin O’Brien and Trent Johnston, the two men in the middle when Ireland won the World Cup clash between the teams in 2007, found themselves in the same situation, this time needing 15 off the last over.

Bowling it was the No 1 ranked ODI bowler in the world, Saaed Ajmal, but reputations mean nothing to this Ireland team. They managed only two singles from the first three balls, but O’Brien, the destroyer of England at the last World Cup, hit the fourth ball for six and it was ‘game on’. The fifth ball was along the ground to long-on but Kevin couldn’t beat the fielder, leaving six to win and four for a tie from the last ball.

It was never going to be short but O’Brien did brilliantly to flick the ball away past Mohammad Irfan, the tallest man in world cricket, fielding at short fine leg, to bring about the 28th tie in ODI history.

Afterwards O’Brien admitted it felt like a loss but it sets up the second and deciding game on Sunday and the full house signs could be up at Castle Avenue.

O’Brien finished 84 not out, from just 47 balls — with 11 fours and two sixes — to earn the man of the match award but Paul Stirling’s second successive century against Pakistan was just as valuable.

He set up the victory charge with 103 from just 107 balls (12 fours and a six), his fifth three-figure score in ODIs, but although his dismissal, with Ireland still 105 short of their target and just 70 balls remaining, could have deflated the Irish team, the arrival of O’Brien, two places higher than normal at No 4, signalled Ireland’s intention to battle it out.

Although he was dropped on 19 by Irfan — the miss that set up the thrilling finale — it allowed him to go on to his highest score in the green shirt since his century against England 54 innings ago.

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