<
>

Isobel Joyce clinches final-ball thriller to deny Bangladesh clean sweep

Ireland 152 for 4 (Lewis 50, Delany 46, Akter 1-20) beat Bangladesh 151 for 4 (Hoque 66*, Shamima 30, Delany 1-19)

Sixteen straight losses across limited-overs cricket over the past two years. Heavy defeats against New Zealand in ODIs and T20Is. An unassailable 2-0 lead to Bangladesh in the T20 series. All of this gloom headlined Ireland's home summer.

If the tenth-ranked hosts needed a performance to break their long-drawn-out rut ahead of the Women's World T20 Qualifier next week in the Netherlands, it couldn't have come in more thrilling a form than their final-ball, six-wicket victory over ninth-ranked Bangladesh in the third and final T20 in Dublin. The match was also to be the last appearance on home soil for Ireland's 37-year-old batsman Clare Shillington and 38-year-old legspinner Ciara Metcalfe.

With 11 required off the last over and seven wickets in hand, Ireland would have fancied themselves to avoid a clean sweep. But in their path to the 152-run target lay a final over from Jahanara Alam, who memorably sealed Bangladesh's maiden Asia Cup title with the bat, and then dominated Bangladesh's last two T20I wins with her all-round exploits.

Ireland captain Laura Delany (46 off 38) and veteran allrounder Isobel Joyce (22 not out off 14), however, ensured four singles, one four, and a two were enough - despite Delany's run-out off a wide three balls into the over - to seal Ireland's 11th win in their 48 games in the format and third over Bangladesh in seven overall T20I encounters. While Joyce struck the winning single after leveling the scores with a boundary on the penultimate ball, Alam took away the Player-of-the-Tournament award.

The major swell of impetus to Ireland's victory came much earlier through 17-year-old Gaby Lewis's 31-ball 50. Her seven fours and a six complemented the seven combined fours from Delany and Joyce. A 93-run third-wicket stand between Delany and Lewis took Ireland to 123 for 2 in 16.2 overs before both were run out three overs apart.

Earlier, Bangladesh collected 151 for 4, after being sent in. No. 3 batsman Fargana Hoque's unbeaten 66 and an opening partnership of 47 between Shamima Sultana (30 off 27) and Ayasha Rahman (27 off 26) set the tone of Bangladesh's innings. Fargana then partnered Sanjida Islam to smash 38 off three overs at the death before Delany removed Islam at the start of the final over. Hoque's highest T20I score took Bangladesh past 150 on the back of six fours and two sixes.