Former Limavady batsman Kamran Akmal cuts Ireland to shreds
Home crowd cheered by century from Sussex captain Ed Joyce against Pakistan
Ireland’s Ed Joyce batting in Clontarf today. Photograph: Kieran Murray/Inpho
A decade ago, a 20-year-old Kamran Akmal cut his cricketing teeth for two seasons at Limavady Cricket Club in the North West leagues, scoring close on 2,000 runs.
At Clontarf Cricket Club on a glorious summer Sunday afternoon, he cut Ireland to shreds with a match-winning 81 from 85 balls that helped his side claim a two-wicket victory and the RSA Insurance One-Day Series trophy following Thursday’s thrilling tie at the same ground.
Akmal’s aggression put a number of Irish bowlers off their game in the last 10 overs, as did Wahab Riaz, who ruined Tim Murtagh’s figures by hitting him for three sixes and a four in a 47th over that cost 24 runs and left Pakistan requiring eight from the final three.
There was still time for some late drama as Kevin O’Brien finally ended Akmal’s stay after he had hit his 11th four off the first ball of the 48th over, with Ireland captain William Porterfield holding on to a skier at cover.
Riaz hit the next ball for a single and also took a single off Trent Johnston in the next over before number 10 batsman Junaid Khan ran two to seal the victory with eight balls to spare.
“We’re pretty dejected to come up short because of the position we were in, it is disappointing,” admitted Porterfield, while also praising Akmal for his match-winning knock.
“He played a class innings, the way he came in and the intent that he showed from early on really took the momentum away from us.”
The home attack had earlier done brilliantly in defending their total of 229 for nine, which was built around a majestic century from Ed Joyce.
Murtagh claimed his first ODI wickets for Ireland, taking two in three balls in the fourth over, while Johnston also took two in his first spell as Pakistan stumbled to 17 for four.
Johnston could have had four victims, and indeed the 39-year-old former Ireland skipper missed out on a possible hat-trick as chances from the bats of Misbah-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik were missed behind the stumps in the 10th over.
The pair would go on to share a 43-run stand before Alex Cusack caught and bowled visiting skipper for 24. George Dockrell then bowled an inspired spell of left-arm spin from the City end, his first eight overs going for 16 runs and including the wicket of Malik leg-before for 43.
The day had started with Ireland handing 23-year-old batsman James Shannon his debut at ODI level, with his Instonians team-mate Andrew White missing out.
After being put in to bat by Pakistan, it took a century of the very highest standard from Joyce to help the home side recover from a terrible start to post a total of 229 for nine.
The Sussex captain was a class apart as wickets tumbled early and late on in the innings. All the while the gifted left-hander worked the ball for singles and twos and unleashed a few trademark drives and cuts to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
His one real flourish came on 94 when he pulled left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman for six into the pavilion to bring up his first ODI hundred for Ireland, and second in total after his 107 for England against Australia in Sydney back in 2007.
It certainly cheered up the home support in sell-out crowd of over 3,000 after they had seen Paul Stirling depart for a duck in the first over following his century in the first ODI on Thursday.
Asad Ali, making his debut for Pakistan, then had Porterfield caught behind chasing a wide delivery in the fourth over in a brilliant first spell in international cricket, where he conceded just nine runs in seven overs.
Joyce and Niall O’Brien (29) put on 65 for the fourth wicket, but the big partnership would come when Kevin O’Brien joined Joyce to put on 94 at a run a ball, including 53 off the five batting powerplay overs.
The hero of the tied game on Thursday, the younger of the O’Brien boys perished on 38 when he became the second of four victims for Rehman, caught on the deep square leg boundary by Nasir Jamshaid in attempting to hit his first six.
A flurry of wickets followed, with Ireland going from 178 for four to 189 for eight in the space of 26 deliveries.
Joyce, one of the coolest customers in international cricket, kept the head until the end, batting all but the first five deliveries to finish on 116 not out from 132 balls, his highest ODI score.
SECOND RSA INSURANCE ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL (at Castle Avenue, Clontarf): Pakistan won the toss and fielded.
W Porterfield c Akmal b Ali 1
P Stirling c Shafiq b Khan 0
E Joyce not out 116
N O’Brien c Akmal b Riaz 29
G Wilson c Hafeez b Rehman 5
K O’Brien c Jamshaid b Rehman 38
J Shannon b Hafeez 2
T Johnston lbw b Rehman 1
A Cusack c Farhat b Rehman 0
T Murtagh c Misbah-ul-Haq b Khan 8
G Dockrell not out 3
Extras (lb7, nb2, w17) 26
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 ovs) 229
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-4, 3-69, 4-84, 5-178, 6-186, 7-188, 8-189, 9-222.
Bowling: J Khan 9-0-59-2; A Ali 10-4-22-1; W Riaz 7-0-45-1; M Hafeez 10-0-33-1; A Rehman 10-1-48-4; S Malik 4-1-15-0.
I Farhat c K O’Brien b Johnston 5
N Jamshaid lbw b Murtagh 0
M Hafeez c Wilson b Murtagh 2
A Shafiq c K O’Brien b Johnston 4
Misbah-ul-Haq c&b Cusack 34
S Malik lbw b Dockrell 43
K Akmal c Porterfield b K O’Brien 81
A Rehman c K O’Brien b Cusack 7
W Riaz not out 47
J Khan not out 2
Extras (b1, lb5, w9) 15
Total (for 8 wkts, 48.4 ovs) 230
Did not bat: A Ali.
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-10, 3-13, 4-17, 5-60, 6-112, 7-133, 8-226.
Bowling: T Murtagh 10-2-54-2; T Johnston 9.4-0-35-2; K O’Brien 8-0-39-1; A Cusack 9-0-48-2; G Dockrell 10-1-32-1; P Stirling 2-0-16-0.
Man of the match: Kamran Akmal.
Pakistan won by 2 wkts and win series 1-0.
Man of the series: Kevin O’Brien.