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Choice of game
We don't get many chances to see top-level cricket in Ireland so this weekend game was a must-see. After the first match ended as a tie, I felt this match could turn out to be another classic.
I am a die-hard Irish fan and fervently hoped to see our boys achieve their first home win against a Full Member side. I was also looking forward to watching some of the world-class Pakistani players such as Kamran Akmal and Mohammed Hafeez in action.
Ed Joyce played one of the most serene innings seen at this venue, with Kevin O'Brien providing a strong push at the end of the innings. The Ireland seamers soon set to work on disassembling the visitors' top order but the man that mattered most was Kamran Akmal who paced his innings to perfection and brought Pakistan back into the game.
One thing I'd have changed
As fantastic as Akmal and Wahab Riaz's assault was, a historic Irish victory would have been preferable to watch. Towards the end it seemed that we could have been treated to another last-ball finish but it wasn't to happen.
Face-off I relished
The match-up I most relished was Kevin O'Brien taking on the Pakistan attack. O'Brien's power-hitting is one of the great sights of the Irish game and for a while at least he put on great show, with a series of punishing sweep shots entertaining the crowd. However, he perished after attempting one big shot too many. It was good while it lasted.
With the required rate climbing Abdur Rehman attempted to smash Alex Cusack through the covers, but O'Brien had other ideas, diving to his right and scooping the ball inches from the turf after it had gone already past him. It was a stunning catch and the crowd acknowledged it.
Shot of the day
Joyce was quickly running out of partners, and time to reach his century towards the end of the Ireland innings, so he decided to just get it over with quickly. He skipped down the wicket and seemed to simply flick the ball off his legs but it flew over cow corner, bringing up his first ODI century for Ireland, to go with his hundred for England. The crowd knew the importance of the innings and showed it with long applause.
Nasir Jamshed had to endure a series of sarcastic cheers after some truly awful misfields on the square leg boundary and didn't seem to take kindly to it. Later, Niall O'Brien shared a few jokes with the spectators, including an offer for an intimate dinner later on.
This was the definition of a partisan crowd, with Pakistani supporters outnumbering the Irish. The crowd was in great spirits though, with both sets of fans clearly just wanting a good day's cricket. The visiting supporters brought a vibrancy and colour not usually seen at matches in Ireland. They made great noises and created an unforgettable atmosphere, with Hindi-pop blaring out over the speaker system, the smells of chicken biryani wafting through the stands and the Dublin sun making a long overdue arrival to the summer. A little bit of Clontarf was transported to Karachi for the day.
Fancy dress index
The crowd was a sea of green for the day with Irish jerseys, Pakistani tops and other shades of green in between. The best I spotted was a young Pakistani supporter who'd turned an Ireland t-shirt into the opposition version with some clever application of tin-foil, paper and plenty of sticky tape.
The music was a bit hit or miss but the crowd danced to it anyway. Cricket Ireland brought in a Jumbotron for the game and it definitely provided an improvement to the old scoreboard. The lunch interval brought a hundred young kids out onto the playing surface for some games of Kwik cricket. The pace and enthusiasm they played with made it hard to look away. Other than that the entertainment had to come from the cricket, and it certainly didn't disappoint.
A day that lived up to everything in its billing. A vibrant crowd, some great weather and a fantastic game of cricket. This was a perfect advertisement for everything good about Irish cricket and it will have gotten many more fans after today. Irish cricket will only hope we get more days like this in the future to show what we can do on the field.
Marks out of ten
I'll go with an 8. Two marks were lost only because of the result which made the ending bittersweet after a near-perfect day of cricket. A pulsating crowd, hard-fought cricket and a very satisfying series; welcome to cricket in Ireland.
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