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Joyce ton muscles Ireland home

Host scales down Afghanistan’s 236 with six wickets to spare, draws level 1-1 in five-match series

Joyce ton muscles Ireland home - Cricket News
Ed Joyce celebrates after making his century.
Ed Joyce’s fourth century and his 144-run stand for the fourth wicket with Kevin O’Brien (75) helped Ireland coast to a six-wicket victory in the third One-Day International against Afghanistan on Thursday (July 14).
Mohammad Shahzad’s 81 had helped Afghanistan post 236 in 49.1 overs, but Joyce and O’Brien propelled the chase to help the home side draw level in the five-match series 1-1. Joyce ended unbeaten on a 135-ball 105, with Paul Stirling giving company on a 37-ball 39, as Ireland completed the chase with 15 balls to spare at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Belfast.  
Facing a tricky chase, Ireland got off to a poor start when William Porterfield, its captain, nicked one outside off against Hamid Hassan in the second over. Sean Terry, the debutant, didn’t fare too well either, dismissed for 3 just two overs later, and when Stuart Poynter (3) fell shortly thereafter, Ireland was in big trouble at 29 for 3.
With Afghanistan sensing blood, Ireland could have crumbled under pressure, but Joyce and O’Brien ground it out. They rotated strike, put away the odd boundaries, and drained whatever momentum Afghanistan had gained. They kept going in that manner, and soon, Joyce reached his half-century, off 58 balls, in the 26th over, with O’Brien following suit later that same over.
Joyce then regularly found the fence, and at one point, went over it with a massive six off Dawlat Zadran, the paceman. O’Brien kept pace with consecutive fours off Rahmat Shah, the leg-spinner, and by this stage, Ireland had soared past the 150-mark and was well on course.
A bowling change eventually did the trick for Afghanistan, Dawlat coming back to prompt O’Brien to hole out in the 38th over. However, with Joyce continuing to pillage the bowlers and Stirling getting in on the act, the target was gunned down without further fuss, Joyce completing his century off 133 balls.
Earlier, Afghanistan struggled to build sizeable partnerships. Shahzad was all blitz and power, typically, but it wasn’t until Asghar Stanikzai walked out at the fall of the third wicket that he found a steady partner.
Javed Ahmadi, Shahzad’s opening partner, was trapped in front in the sixth over by Barry McCarthy. Rahmat hung around to add 40 for the second wicket, with Shahzad doing most of the scoring, but having scored a 28-ball 16, he was caught behind down leg off O’Brien. Samiullah Shenwari followed suit not too long thereafter.
With Stanikzai’s arrival however, Afghanistan finally had some stability, although things could have been different had Gary Wilson claimed a straightforward catch at first slip when he was on four. Stanikzai didn’t hold back thereafter. There were consecutive sixes off Andy McBrine, and with Shahzad finding the fence every now and then, Afghanistan ambled along.
The two had added 76 when Ireland found a way back through Peter Chase, the medium-pacer. He had Stanikzai holing out to third-man for a 49-ball 33, and when Shahzad guided one to Wilson at first slip two balls later, the visitor was 143 for 5.
Mohammad Nabi then took charge. He had some luck going his way, dropped on 1 by Joyce, but he hung around to guide the innings, even as Najibullah Zadran and Mirwais Ashraf fell cheaply. Rashid Khan, the all-rounder, provided much-needed support, and their steady 52-run stand took Afghanistan well into the 200s. Rashid became McCarthy’s third wicket in the death, falling for a 28-ball 24, and Nabi lasted just two more overs before O’Brien got the better of him.
It was a decent total, but with Joyce and O’Brien in the mood, it proved insufficient.

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