Joyce hastens Ireland's victory
The four-day Test between Ireland and Pakistan ended prematurely at College Park yesterday as Ireland won by an innings and 54 runs. The contest was more of an endurance test, one might say; in last week's three one-day internationals and again during their first innings on Sunday, the frailty of the Pakistan batting made it obvious that this mis-match was never going to last until mid week.
Instead, the countries will now play two more one-day matches at College Park today and tomorrow, with play starting at 1 p.m. on both occasions. And it will indeed be a major surprise if the Irish fail to pull off two further decisive victories.
Yesterday morning, the start was delayed because of the overnight rain, and play did not begin until the early afternoon. Perhaps that was just as well, because had the start gone according to plan, very likely it would have been all over by lunch-time.
In the event, Pakistan did manage to surpass by 30 runs their paltry first-innings total of 53, aided, be it said, by 17 extras. Zamurad Afzal was again the top scorer with 20, but as was the case on Sunday, none of her colleagues managed to last the pace at the crease with her.
In Pakistan's first innings, the only other batter to reach double figures had been Deeba Sherazi. She was removed early at the start of the second innings on Sunday, but on this occasion, apart from Afzal, three others did manage to get into double figures, if just about - Khursheen Jabeen with 13, Kiran Baluch with 12, and Sadia Butt with 10.
Isobel Joyce positively had a field day with the ball. Opening the bowling with Barbara McDonald, the Merrion youngster took six wickets for 21 off just over 11 overs - a really outstanding performance, even allowing for the weakness of the opposition's batting.
Catherine O'Neill also had a remarkable bowling analysis. She took three wickets - that of Afzal among them - and conceded just a meagre 12 runs from her 14 overs.
In fact, of the 54 overs bowled by Ireland's five-woman attack, no fewer than 22 were maidens. This compared with 25 maidens out of the 47 bowled during Pakistan's first innings on Sunday.
Of course, allowance must be made for the modest standards of their opponents. All the same, their decisive victories in this past week simply must be a major psychological boost for captain Miriam Grealey and her squad as they head off for the three-match series against England A this weekend.