Akmal, Riaz heroics give Pakistan series victory


DUBLIN: Kamran Akmal and tailender Wahab Riaz made a late recovery to help Pakistan beat Ireland by two wickets on Sunday to win 1-0 in the two-match, one-day international series.

Akmal scored 81 off 85 balls and Riaz plundered four sixes and four fours in an unbeaten 47 off 35 balls to help Pakistan score 230-8 in 48.4 overs.

The 93-run stand for the eighth wicket off 62 balls overshadowed Ireland top-order batsman Ed Joyce’s unbeaten 116 off 132 balls, which steered Ireland to 229-9.

Pakistan’s chase was in tatters at 133-7 in the 37th over before Akmal and Riaz launched a counterattack against the inexperienced Ireland bowlers.

Last Thursday, the first match ended in a tie on the Duckworth/Lewis Method when Ireland made a spirited reply and scored 275-5.

The short tour was part of Pakistan’s preparation for next month’s Champions Trophy in England.

Veteran Ireland seamer Trent Johnston _ one of the four players from the Ireland team that knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 World Cup in West Indies with a three-wicket win _ and Tim Murtagh reduced Pakistan to 17-4.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who was dropped on 0 by Paul Stirling low down in the slips, added 43 with Shoaib Malik (43) before sending a tame return catch to Alex Cusack.

Ireland kept the pressure on Pakistan’s brittle batting lineup, with leftarm spinner George Dockrell trapping Malik lbw in the 34th over. Three overs later, Abdur Rehman was brilliantly caught in the covers by Kevin O’Brien to raise Ireland spirits.

However, Akmal and Riaz changed gears. Riaz hit Murtagh for three sixes and a four in one over, and Akmal was equally belligerent in hitting 11 boundaries and two sixes.

Akmal tried to finish the match off but skyed a catch when only four runs were needed, but Riaz and Junaid Khan took Pakistan to victory.

Earlier, Joyce anchored the innings by hitting a dozen boundaries and a six as Pakistan opted to field first after winning the toss.

The visitors reduced the home team to 4-2 when Khan removed Stirling without scoring and newcomer Asad Ali claimed the wicket of captain William Porterfield for 1.

Left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman, one of three bowlers changed by Pakistan, took 4-48.

Stirling’s dismissal in the first over pegged the home team back as Khan and Ali dominated with the new ball.

Joyce played 17 ODIs for England in 2006-07, including hitting 107 against Australia at Sydney. In 2010, he was granted special permission by the International Cricket Council to switch back to his country of birth.

Joyce featured in two productive stands _ 65 with Niall O’Brien (29) for the third wicket and a run-a-ball 94 with Kevin O’Brien (38) for the fifth.

Joyce got a lucky break when he was dropped on 61 by Mohammad Hafeez at point off Ali before he cut loose and added 53 in the batting powerplay with Kevin. Joyce hit his century off 120 balls by sending Rehman for a six before the left-armer hit back with two quick wickets to reduce Ireland to 189-8.

However, Joyce added 40 in the last five overs. Pakistan’s bowlers also helped Ireland’s cause by bowling 17 wides.