Dogged Ireland eye series win
Match factsSunday, May 26
Start time 1045 local (0945 GMT, 1445 PKT)
The first ODI of the two-match series was another telling advertisement of what Ireland are capable of on a cricket field. The end result may have been a tie but Pakistan were biting their nails for the most part as Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling nearly pulled off a spectacular victory. With the second match becoming a virtual final, Ireland have a great chance to win the series and attract international attention. For Pakistan, it is a matter of pride; a loss here could dent their morale ahead of the Champions Trophy in England.
Traditionally, Pakistan's bowling has been their strength but Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and Saeed Ajmal were expensive in the first ODI. The batting was far more solid, with Mohammad Hafeez vindicating a move to No.3 in the batting order. He scored his fifth ODI hundred - his first in 14 months. Asad Shafiq was equally impressive with an almost run-a-ball 84. Pakistan will need to raise their game quickly to defuse the Ireland threat.
Ireland are the best team among the Associate nations and once again impressed against an international side. The bowlers kept a stranglehold on Pakistan in the first 10 overs and the batsmen negotiated Ajmal with ease. Ireland's thirst to perform on the world stage is clear from O'Brien saying the result felt "like a loss."
Form guide(Most recent first, completed matches only)
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Saeed Ajmal failed to defend 15 runs in the final 6 balls of the innings and conceded 71 runs in 10 overs as Ireland tied the first ODI after being behind for most part of the chase. Ajmal, though, is Pakistan's trump-card and has the experience to bounce back strongly.
Though he could not push Ireland across the line, Kevin O'Brien was at his belligerent best as he raced along at a strike rate close to 180. The right hander blasted 43 runs off 21 balls from Ajmal alone and his presence in the middle order poses a clear danger to Pakistan.
Ireland are expected to field an unchanged team.
Ireland (probable): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Niall O'Brien (wkt), 5 Gary Wilson, 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Andrew White, 8 Alex Cusack, 9 Trent Johnston, 10 Tim Murtagh, 11 George Dockrell
Pakistan are likely to make one change with Wahab Riaz being tipped to replace Ehsan Adil, who only bowled three overs in the first ODI.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Imran Farhat, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Amin, 7 Kamran Akmal (wkt), 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Junaid Khan, 10 Mohammad Irfan, 11 Ehsan Adil/Wahab Riaz
Pitch and conditions
Though the weather is likely to remain cloudy, a full 50-over game is expected on Sunday.
Stats and travia
- Ed Joyce needs 33 more to complete 1000 runs in ODIs.
- Paul Stirling holds the record for the highest score by an Ireland batsman. The second highest belongs to Kevin O'Brien. Both players appear twice on the top ten list.
- Mohammad Hafeez, who scored his fifth ODI century, last played at No.3 in February 2005
- Hafeez needs one more wicket to complete 100 wickets in ODIs
"Full credit to Ireland. They needed almost ten runs an over for the last 12 overs but they batted well and we know we will have to improve our performance."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq
"We definitely feel we can win the series. We respect Pakistan, they are a great team but we have nothing to fear having come so close here."
Kevin O'Brien believes his team can win the series
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here