Ireland v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Dublin May 23, 2013

Kevin O'Brien secures Ireland dramatic tie

The Report by Ger Siggins

Ireland 275 for 5 (Stirling 103, O'Brien 84*) tied with Pakistan 266 for 5 (Hafeez 122*, Shafiq 84) (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

His fans have come to expect thunderous innings and Kevin O'Brien didn't let them down, with his 84 off 47 balls seizing a tie for Ireland against Pakistan in the first of two ODIs at Clontarf.

Ireland's cricket resurgence was sparked by beating Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup, when Trent Johnston and O'Brien saw them home at Sabina Park. The same pair were at the wicket with 13 needed off three balls here, when O'Brien hit Saeed Ajmal for six and two, before the last ball sped for four to leave them one run short of their Duckworth-Lewis-adjusted target.

"It feels a bit like a loss to be honest", a downcast O'Brien said afterwards, "we got ourselves in a position to win. You don't go out to tie a game, you go out to win it."

O'Brien's Man-of-the-Match knock, which included 11 fours and 2 sixes, overshadowed two masterful centuries of contrasting styles. A high-class, unbeaten 122 by Mohammad Hafeez warmed the hearts and hands of the large Pakistani contingent before Paul Stirling fired Ireland's chase with a ton of his own.

Hafeez, 32, made his first ODI century in 19 innings as Pakistan overcame difficult early conditions to post a formidable 266 for 5. The quality of Hafeez's innings was all the more laudable considering it was interrupted four times by stoppages as the Dublin skies emptied rain and hail on the picturesque ground.

In some ways the climate may prove as much a block to Irish ambitions as anything else. The many new fans the game has won in the country in recent years can't have been impressed by the live experience, as almost all the marquee fixtures since 2007 have been interrupted by rain.

The crowd were good-natured, however, and a carnival atmosphere obtained despite the chill. Eyebrows were raised when Pakistan opted to bat on winning the toss but, after fine opening spells by Tim Murtagh and Johnston there was little to concern the visitors.

Nasir Jamshed hit as big a six as has ever been seen here but was forced to retire hurt on 15 and when first-change bowler Alex Cusack snapped up Imran Farhat the locals found their voice. But it was another 30 overs before they had anything to cheer about as Hafeez and Asad Shafiq found batting increasingly easy.

Shafiq passed 1000 runs in ODIs, and his personal best, and was in sight of a maiden century when he spooned Cusack to Johnston at long-on. Their partnership of 188 was the second highest against Ireland for any wicket, dwarfed only by Brendon McCullum and James Marshall's opening 274 for New Zealand against a virtual second string in 2008.

Hafeez moved steadily to his hundred, finding gaps all round the wicket and reaching the milestone off 102 balls. There was a hiccup next over when the recovered Jamshed was well-taken by a diving Tim Murtagh and, next ball, Hafeez sent Misbah ul-Haq back, which he declined to do and was run out without facing. Kamran Akmal cracked three boundaries before O'Brien yorked him in the final over, and there was just time for Hafeez to sign off with a glorious cover drive to close as classy an innings as Dublin has seen in quite a while.

With only 47 overs bowled, the target was revised up to 276 and Stirling set Ireland off in a fashion that has become his mark. Two years ago he made a century against the same opposition, which caused Waqar Younis to rave: "He is a fine player, he played proper shots and he is not scared of playing his shots against good bowlers."

Here he played classical drives and deft cuts whilst bludgeoning boundaries on the way to his fifth ODI hundred, in 101 balls. He and Porterfield put on 62, before the second large second-wicket stand of the day, with Ed Joyce. The Sussex man has been in fine form in England but was disappointed to miss a straight one from Hafeez. The pitch generally failed to turn as much as expected and Saeed Ajmal had a day to forget quickly, his ten overs going for 71. He frequently bowled short and O'Brien played some punching backfoot drives through extra cover. Mohammed Irfan, too, had a difficult day, not least in the field where he was tested frequently.

"Ireland are a good side," Misbah, Pakistan's captain, said afterwards. "We will need to improve in all areas before Sunday's game." There were still a few hundred tickets left for that game but they may go quickly when word spreads about this remarkable result.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • murali on May 26, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    well pakistan scoring 250+ is a wonder then their bowling not been able to defend 250+ that to vs ireland is also a wonder

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    I am not an Ajmal fan but you cannot judge a bowler on the performance of just one or two overs. Once Dale Steyn went for 58 runs in 5 overs and Malinga, a very good bowler in death overs, went for 96 runs in 7.4 overs which is the worst economy rate in ODI's. Does it mean that Steyn and Malinga are bad bowlers? The only person who should be blamed is Misbah for his unimaginative use of his bowlers.

  • romi on May 25, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    pak doesnt have tomuch variation in their bating. There should be 300 + score in this pitch. Hafiz shafiq misbah malik all are same slow player and jamshed n farhat are clue less in theri short selection n akmal is in phatintic form. There should be ahmed shazad and haris sohail in this squad. Pcb stil hav time to think for champion trophy

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Not for the first time will have to come up from down... Pak will be easily through to semis we have such history people :)

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    one should never give saeed ajmal the last over. its a curse for him

  • mohammad on May 25, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Misbah, looking at the bowling figures, how did you decide to give the last over to Ajmal? He was wicket less and gave runs in 9 overs. Hafiz or Adil had to bowl the last over. Not a good decision from captain. I think Ajaml gets panicky at the last over under pressure. A top class bowler should not be hammered like the way he got.So, what is coming up with SA, ENGLAND. I feel sorry for this Pak team. They will have hard time to beat any team.

  • Zain on May 24, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    Ajmal going for 71 is something new. I think the pitch was easy paced and a score of 365 is below par against Ireland side. Some peoples says Ireland should get the Test status. Couple of these players are a product of English county cricket which is a better league than others.

  • Jawwad on May 24, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    Misbah denied Hafeez Man of the Match award. It was Hafeez's day. He was bowling well enough to be awarded that last over but Misbah being non-innovative stuck to his guns. Ajmal no doubt is still the best spin bowler in the world but then anyone can have a mediocre day and nine overs from him were proof enough. The wicket was placid, no turn or seam and Hafeez is the perfect man to bowl on such wicket. I can't believe Misbah's decisions. On the other hand, I am so proud of Ireland for what they've achieved. They've always been my favorite non-Test playing team. Bravo Ireland. Please tour Pakistan.

  • mohammad on May 24, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    AJMAL DID IT AGAIN: Anyone remember Ajmal got hammered by Australian batsman. 22 runs in the last over to win the match. He did again. he should not get the last over anytime.

  • Dhumper on May 24, 2013, 17:04 GMT

    Let me say this upfront - Ireland is not an 'Associate country' anymore. Give them a full status. They may get beaten easily in Test cricket but that will fast track their learning curve. A couple of better facilities and more games would help them attract full time cricketers with T20 riches to follow! Time to make Cricket a top 3 sport in that country!