Ed Joyce’s maiden Ireland century steered his side to a defendable target in the second RSA Insurance one-day international against Pakistan in Dublin.
After Ireland lost both openers inside the first four overs Joyce remained thereafter to hit an unbeaten 116 from 132 balls.
It helped Ireland to a competitive 229 for nine as they bid to claim a first-ever series win against a Test-playing nation on a tricky pitch.
Pakistan spinner Abdur Rehman, playing his first international since his ban for testing positive for cannabis last October, returned figures of four for 48.
The returning spinner, picked in place of Saeed Ajmal, had to concede to Joyce’s astute innings, however, as the left-hander became just the second player to score an ODI century for two nations.
Joyce scored 107 for England against Australia in Sydney six years ago, his only previous century, and joined Eoin Morgan in securing the rare feat.
The 34-year-old was thrust into action almost immediately as Paul Stirling, who hit his second consecutive century in Thursday’s dramatic tie, failed to trouble the scorers.
Stirling spooned a leading edge to mid-wicket off Junaid Khan and when skipper William Porterfield chased at debutant Asad Ali soon after Ireland were in early trouble at four for two.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq had sent them in on a green-tinged wicket, changed from the run-filled surface used in the opener, and Ireland initially plodded along as ball regularly beat bat.
Ali’s first international spell of seven overs returned four maidens at a cost of just nine runs, but Joyce and Niall O’Brien nevertheless steadied matters in a watchful 65-run stand from 120 balls.
O’Brien patience broke when he flashed a catch through to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off Wahab Riaz before Gary Wilson’s attempted sweep off Rehman ballooned up for Mohammad Hafeez to take at slip.
That left the Irish 84 for four as Kevin O’Brien joined Joyce at the end of the 25th over.
They initially remained on guard until the powerplay, taken at the start of the 34th over, saw O’Brien begin to inflict the same sort of damage that saw him plunder an unbeaten 84 off 47 balls on Thursday.
Together with Joyce, who was dropped on 61 when Hafeez juggled four times at gully, they added 53 in the five-over restrictions.
Nine boundaries came, one more than Ireland had managed all innings to that point, as a score in excess of 250 suddenly appeared achievable.
But when the field dropped back O’Brien picked out Nasir Jamshed in the deep after hitting 38 from 48 balls.
Debutant James Shannon and Trent Johnston then fell cheaply and Joyce was left trying to bat out the overs with the tail as much as reach his ton.
It was a slight surprise that when he did reach double figures it was with a six, his first of the innings, pulling Rehman over the ropes.
He battled on to the end, to secure his highest ODI score, and ensure Pakistan would at least have to bat well to deny the Irish an historic success.