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Pakistan thump Ireland in series opener

MALAHIDE: Pakistan dismissed Ireland for 82 runs to claim 255-run victory in their first one day international (ODI) of two-match series on Thursday at Malahide.

Earlier, Sharjeel Khan’s stunning innings of 152, his maiden one-day international hundred, guided Pakistan to a formidable 337 for six.

Sharjeel hit the third fastest 150 in ODI cricket from just 85 balls, with 16 fours and nine sixes to put the tourists in control at the halfway stage in a match reduced by rain to 47 overs per side.

Only South Africa’s AB de Villiers and Australia’s Shane Watson have reached the landmark quicker than the Pakistan opening batsman and although Sharjeel was out next ball, caught behind off Barry McCarthy, he had set his side up for a huge total.

What made the 27-year-old Sharjeel’s feat all the more impressive was that Thursday’s match was just his 12th ODI, with his previous highest score 61.

After he was out, the experienced Shoaib Malik and debutant Mohammed Nawaz then put on 105 for the sixth wicket in just 83 balls with only McCarthy standing up to the onslaught.

The Durham medium-pacer finished with his second four-wicket haul in only his seventh ODI, while wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien held four catches.

But it was Sharjeel who stole the show in a memorable innings.

He passed his best ODI score, in his previous innings, with three successive fours off Peter Chase and brought up his hundred from just 61 balls with his 12th four to go with five sixes.

Pakistan lost a wicket in the fourth over when skipper Azhar Ali was caught behind to McCarthy’s ninth ball but Mohammad Hafeez helped the recovery in a second-wicket stand of 90, and Sharjeel and Babar Azam then put on 94 for the third wicket in just 63 deliveries.

The only time Pakistan were troubled was when Sarfraz Ahmed followed Sharjeel back to the pavilion just three balls later to leave Pakistan 227 for five.

But Malik and Nawaz, on a very impressive first appearance, continued to take apart Irish spinners Andy McBrine and Paul Stirling, who conceded 107 runs in their combined 12 overs. AFP