Isobel Joyce with her player-of-the-match award. Cricket Ireland

Ireland Women stun Pakistan in Twenty20 thriller

The amateurs got one over on the professionals today in Doha.

IRELAND WOMEN PULLED off a superb six wicket win against Pakistan in their Twenty20 International in Doha.

Chasing 98, Ireland got home with two balls to spare thanks to an unbeaten 30 from Cecelia Joyce, who shared a vital partnership of 44 with twin sister Isobel (28). Clare Shillington (15) had got Ireland off to a quick start, but her dismissal saw Ireland falter from 33 for 1 to 35 for 3.

Once the Joyce sisters had been separated Melissa Scott-Hayward held her nerve, providing excellent support for Cecelia Joyce, scoring the winning run to set off great scenes of jubilation in the Irish camp.

Ireland’s bowlers and fielders performed heroically in restricting strong favourites Pakistan to 97 for 4 in their 20 overs. The Irish wicket takers were  Isobel Joyce (1-12), Louise McCarthy (1-15), and Elena Tice (1-23), while Lucy O’Reilly enhanced her reputation as a superb fielder with yet another run out.

imageThe Joyce sisters, Cecelia and Isobel, combined for 58 runs. INPHO/Donall Farmer

It was a first win for new coach Trent Johnston, who praised the character shown by the team following heavy defeats in the one-day series last week. “I can’t compliment the girls enough for their attitude and commitment over the past week. There’s no doubt everyone was pretty low after the defeats in the ODI series. Myself and Mark Lane worked hard at making sure we restored their confidence and self-belief during training this past four days.

We made sure everyone had clarity over their roles in T20 cricket, and to be fair to the squad they’ve all bought it into, with everyone really responding to their tasks. It’s always a challenge stepping off a plane and mostly indoor practice straight into an ODI series against two top quality sides. The players have learned quickly and responded well to the challenge.”

“They’ll enjoy tonight but there are two back-to-back T20′s tomorrow, and it’s important they follow up this win with further good performances, otherwise this win will be basically pointless.”

Skipper Isobel Joyce, who picked up the MOM accolade was delighted with the win saying: “We’ve been working hard on our Twenty20 cricket since qualifying for the World Cup so that was out primary focus coming out here. We’d obviously liked to have played better in the ODI games but we’ve knuckled down, put those disappointments behind us, and we’re ecstatic to have beaten Pakistan finally after coming second best to them for such a long time.”

Joyce has been an integral part of the Ireland team for 15 years and in that time there have been wins against Full Members Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and England. Today’s result, she said, was right up there.

“It’s such a different ball game now with a lot of the women’s teams turning professional, while we’re amateurs,” Joyce commented. “Pakistan have been professional for a few years now, and we’ve played them so much in recent times with less and less success, so it makes this win really sweet as we know each others game so well. The victory gives us all something to build on for the rest of the games and the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.”

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