Ireland captain William Porterfield said the loss to Pakistan in the second ODI was "heartbreaking" for the team after being in a strong position to register their maiden ODI series win over a Test-playing nation. Pakistan were reduced to 133 for 7 chasing 230, but a 93-run eighth-wicket stand between Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz quashed Ireland's hopes as Pakistan took the series 1-0 with a narrow two-wicket win.
"It is kind of heartbreaking in terms of being in the position we were in. That's the biggest thing that we'll look back on," Porterfield said.
Ireland seamers Trent Johnston and Tim Murtagh reduced Pakistan to 17 for 4 before a 52-run stand between Akmal and Shoaib Malik instigated a fight back. But it was Riaz's counterattacking 47 off 35 balls that caught Ireland offguard. "For [number] nine to come in and hit it like that - fair play to him," Porterfield said.
With Pakistan needing 32 in four overs, Riaz demolished Murtagh's over by hitting three sixes in five balls. Akmal, who's 81 off 85 balls held Pakistan's chase together, also earned praise from the Ireland captain. "He found the gaps pretty well and showed that intent from early on," he said. "He took the momentum away from us."
Though Porterfield rued not being able to capitalise on key moments, he said the team showed that its cricket was moving in the right direction. "Even coming into the last 12 to 14 overs, if we had of picked up a wicket at that time we were right on top. It's deflating at the minute but it shows where we are at," he said.
A prime source of his confidence was Ed Joyce, whose century was the sole bright spot in Ireland's batting as seven batsmen fell for single-digit scores. "The way he [Joyce] played by anchoring the innings and pacing it stood out," Porterfield said. "It shows what a class act he is and showed the rest of us what type of innings needed to be played."
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, was impressed by the challenge put up by the Ireland team. "They played very well," he said, "The way they are improving they can compete with any Test-playing nation.
"We were really struggling. We knew that we had depth in our batting because Abdur Rehman and Wahab Riaz are capable of scoring runs at the lower order. But it was still a difficult job. The way Kamran and Wahab played was tremendous.
"We have not been getting much from the lower order so the way they played gives us a lot of confidence going into the Champions Trophy."