Kevin O\'Brien hit a dramatic four off the last ball of the first ODI to deny Pakistan victory and earn Ireland a dramatic tie.
Dublin: Misbah ul-Haq has told his Pakistan team they must improve in all three departments ahead of Sunday's series decider with Ireland. Kevin O'Brien hit a dramatic four off the last ball of the first one-day international on Thursday to deny Pakistan victory and earn Ireland a dramatic tie - the 28th in ODI history.
"Full credit to Ireland. They needed almost 10 an over for the last 12 overs but they batted well and we know we will have to improve our performance," said Misbah. In contrast, Ireland got so close to their victory target of 276 in 47 overs that the tie felt like a loss, according to O'Brien, whose unbeaten 84 was his highest score for Ireland since his century masterminded the shock of the 2011 World Cup, when the Irish defeated England in Bangalore.
"To come so close and not get over the line is tough to take but when we have time to reflect, I suppose it will be easier to take," said O'Brien. "Irish cricket is ever improving, we just need to get a bit more consistency. Everyone knows we are a good team; we just need to put five, six, seven good performances in a row.
"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, we know a different bounce of the ball and we come out with a victory and that's what we will be targeting on Sunday."
In contrast, Pakistan were trying to take the positives from a game they were always winning until the last ball of the game. They hit 144 off the last 16 overs, after the fourth and final rain delay of the match, to reach 266 for 5 with Mohammad Hafeez scoring 122 not out, and would have been confident of defending Ireland's revised target of 276.
In cold conditions, Paul Stirling got Ireland off to the perfect start with a 102-ball century but Mohammad Irfan got his wicket just five balls later and Hafeez finished with 2 for 34, the best bowling of the match. Crucially, Irfan dropped O'Brien on 19 and that was the miss that ensured an exciting finish.
"Missed catches are part of the game," Asad Shafiq said. "We were hoping for a tough encounter. Playing a match like this is very good preparation for the Champions Trophy. Ireland played very well. We were hoping to take wickets with the new ball but it didn't go our way. Their opening pair batted well. The ball did not seam or turn as expected. It was a very good wicket to bat on."
Shafiq took advantage and shared a second-wicket stand of 188 with Hafeez, his contribution a one-day career best 84."To get the highest score always feels good," he added. "But I'm disappointed I didn't get a century. It was on my mind."