Ed Joyce scored his sixth ODI hundred to boost Ireland to victory. © Getty Images

Ed Joyce scored his sixth ODI hundred to boost Ireland to victory. © Getty Images

A masterful century by Ed Joyce and a patient fifty by Gary Wilson following a wholesome bowling performance helped Ireland take their One-Day International record to 4-0 against United Arab Emirates in Dubai on Thursday (January 11).

After restricting the home side to 222 for 9 through a collective bowling effort, Ireland had a disastrous start to the modest chase but a 131-run stand between Joyce and Wilson helped Ireland achieve the target with four wickets and four balls to spare at the ICC Academy Ground in the first of six games in the tri-series, also including Scotland.

Mohammad Naveed struck twice in his first two overs to reduce Ireland to 5 for 2. William Porterfield, the captain, and Joyce then stitched together a promising 41-run stand before Zahoor Khan struck.

After Porterfield fell for 28, O’Brien brothers Niall and Kevin fell for single-digit scores to leave Ireland tottering at 91 for 5 in 22.1 overs. The flurry of wickets caused Joyce to bat with added caution, but he found a willing aid in Wilson at the other end.

The wicketkeeper-batsman focussed on rotating strike and building a steady stand, letting settled partner Joyce do the scoring. But once they got a healthy partnership going, Wilson too took some liberties and upped his scoring rate, ensuring Ireland’s asking rate remained in check. Joyce finished unbeaten on 116, his sixth ODI hundred built around 13 fours and a six. Wilson fell for 53 with the scores level.

Naveed, the right-arm seamer, was the pick of the host bowlers, taking 2 for 45 in nine overs. Ahmed Raza’s left-arm spin yielded 2 for 49, while Rohan Mustafa, the captain, not only kept it tight but also had Niall stumped with his offspin to finish with 1 for 32 in 10 overs.

On being put in, UAE did not have the best start, losing Mustafa cheaply. Ashfaq Ahmed, the other opener, kept things rolling with a run-a-ball 35 and put up a 45-run stand for the second wicket with Ghulam Shabber. However, soon after Peter Chase had Ashfaq dismissed, Shabber was removed by Kevin for a laborious 21.

Rameez Shahzad took the lead in a 35-run partnership with Muhammad Usman and then brought UAE back into the contest with a 74-run stand with Mohammad Boota (37). Shahzad didn’t receive any substantial support from the lower order and himself fell for a measured 111-ball 75 when Boyd Rankin caught him off his own bowling.

Rankin was the most successful of the UAE bowlers, conceding just 26 from his 10 overs for his two wickets. Brian McCarthy, Kevin and Chase also took two wickets each, while Dockrell scalped one.

The sides will next face off on Saturday (January 13). Ireland will then play Scotland in back-to-back clashes, before Scotland and UAE clash in two matches to round off the tournaments. All matches will be played at the ICC Academy Ground.