Joyce double-ton puts Ireland in command
Ireland 420 for 3 ( Joyce 229*, Stirling 146) v UAE
Ed Joyce had retired from T20 cricket in the hopes of lengthening his Ireland career in the longer formats and evidence from the first day's place in Dublin suggests he's a prized asset. He recorded his third and his country's second ever double-hundred. His unbeaten 229 off 222 balls is now the best score by an Ireland batsman in multi-day cricket, beating Eoin Morgan's 209 not out against the same opposition in 2007. And with Paul Stirling adding a stroke-filled 146 off 198 balls, UAE were left with lots of toil and no results in their Intercontinental Cup match.
Besides the lack of success, the visitors were unable to mitigate the run-flow. Ireland finished with 420 runs in only 94 overs - a run-rate of 4.40. When Joyce and Stirling were in the middle of their 231-run stand for the second wicket, it was soaring towards six.
It didn't help that UAE's fielding was similarly helpless. Joyce was dropped multiple times, once when his score had only been 60. The bowler, Amjad Javed, was punished for two fours immediately. Joyce blitzed through the 90s with three fours in the 59th over off Mohammad Naveed to reach three-figures off 135 balls.
Another drop, at long-on which also trickled to the boundary when he was on 136, ensured UAE would stumble further. Joyce breezed past 150; his next fifty runs were racked up in a mere 27 balls as he smashed captain Mohammad Tauqir's offspin for 22 runs in an over. With his double-ton on the horizon and only four overs left, Joyce rode on his momentum and struck left-arm seamer Manjula Guruge for four fours to eclipse the landmark. Joyce struck 134 of his runs in boundaries - 29 fours and three sixes.
Stirling matched his partner on the sixes and collected 17 fours himself. He too hadn't looked perfectly comfortable at times, but time at the crease helped him become more assured. He found the fence twice in the 24th over to bring up his fifty and did the same in the 50 to move to his ninth ton for Ireland, and third in the Intercontinental Cup.
Fayyaz Ahmed, the left-arm spinner, accounted for Stirling in the 68th over and Tauqir picked up Niall O'Brien late in the day. But that did little to lift UAE's spirits.