Match Report – IRE vs PAK 2nd T20I, May 12, 2024

Pakistan 195 for 3 (Fakhar 78, Rizwan 75*) beaten Ireland 193 for 7 (Tucker 51, Shaheen 3-49) by seven wickets and 19 balls remaining

For just over half the match, Ireland held out hope of sealing a famous series victory. But an overwhelming attack from Mohammad Rizwan And Fakhar Zaman, who combined for a 140-run stand off 78 balls for the third wicket, helped Pakistan win the second T20I in Dublin with seven wickets and 19 balls to spare. Fakhar smashed 78 off 40, while Rizwan was unbeaten at 75 off 46, as Azam Khan finished the match with a burst of sixes to level the series 1-1.

Zaman joined Rizwan after early matches fell cheaply. Saim Ayub's dry run continued, caught by a diving third ball from Curtis Campher, while Babar intercepted a harmless medium-paced delivery from Graham Hume in the follow-on to leave Pakistan 13 for 2 in a chase of 194.

But Rizwan, who has been demoted in favor of Ayub in recent times, demonstrated his value in the powerplay by combining dazzling sweeps with judicious placement. He carried most of the points load until Zaman folded. Zaman sent Craig Young to square leg in the fifth over, and apart from two costly falls, Pakistan were untroubled.

There was a brief slowdown after the seventh round, but in the absence of Ireland's breakthrough ability, Pakistan's position strengthened. It was in the 13th over that the match slipped irrevocably out of Ireland's hands, as Pakistan plundered 21 from Young, dropping the asking rate from 10 to 8.4. There was even time, after Zaman completed the hole, for a whirlwind cameo from Azam from 30 off 10 balls.

The biggest concern, after Pakistan failed to defend 183 in the first T20I, was another inconsistent bowling performance. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Amir were costly and Pakistan could not contain Ireland in the Powerplay. Lorcan Tucker's 34-ball 51 sealed the first half of the Irish innings, while Campher punished Shaheen once more in the middle overs. Each of the top seven hosts managed double figures, and all but two reached strike rates of 150 or more, resulting in a first innings score that Pakistan's bowlers will feel too good to have allowed on this surface.

Shaheen and Amir mutilated at the top and tail

Shaheen Afridi is known for being lethal with the new ball, while Amir is loved for his variations at the death. The left-arm pace duo opened and closed the bowling, and found themselves punished at every step. Shaheen was among the wickets, but that didn't save him from an onslaught as Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling launched the attack in the Powerplay. Shaheen got his revenge when he dismissed both players in his second match, but didn't really learn the lesson of bowling against Campher in the first match.

In the 15th over, Shaheen kept a nice leg lift while playing Campher's body only to be put away for a four and a six. A late decision to push back the fielder allowed Campher to predict a fuller delivery, driving it beautifully past cover for another six, before hitting a boundary to complete the 21 runs.

Gareth Delany punished Afridi and Amir as Ireland scored 29 in the final two overs to move past 190. The duo finished with combined figures of 8-0-93-4.

Pakistani spinners take Ireland back

After Ireland scored 68 for 2 in seven overs, Pakistan began to rotate with the field distribution. This is where Imad Wasim excels at slowing down the opposition. Harry Tector was struggling to find rhythm and Lorcan Tucker nudged him. They showed little ambition against Ayub at part-time as Ireland scored 16 in three overs and Pakistan regained some control.

Hume's double fall

Hume's day had started quite well. He took out Babar on the Irish defense's second pass, but then made two costly errors just as Rizwan and Zaman got moving. He dropped Rizwan at midwicket on the last delivery of the powerplay and then five balls later deposited a top edge from Zaman to fine leg. Ireland had squandered their chance to seal a historic series win, and Rizwan and Zaman's century stand took the series into a decider on Tuesday.

Danyal Rasool is the Pakistan correspondent for ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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