World Cup

Pakistan takes on Ireland in must-win clash

An unpredictable Pakistan will take on giant-killers Ireland in a must-win pool B encounter of the ICC cricket World Cup in Adelaide on Sunday.

The winner of the final league match of the group stage will move into the quarterfinals while the loser will have to engage in a run-rate battle with West Indies.

A likely win for West Indies against the UAE, in the first game tomorrow, will bring them level with Pakistan and Ireland on six points to set up a close finish for the final-eight spots.

With defending champions India and South Africa already taking up the first two spots in the table, co-hosts Australia and New Zealand have also qualified from pool A alongwith Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Memories of the 2007 World Cup exit will certainly resurface in the Pakistan dressing room as they take on the Irish side nearly eight years after they lost to the minnows at Kingston’s Sabina Park in Jamaica on March 17.

The match not only marked the end of the road for the Inzamam-ul-Haq-led side in the 50-over showpiece event but also for coach Bob Woolmer, who was tragically found dead in his hotel room a day after the loss.

Since then the two sides have played four ODIs against each other with Pakistan winning three and the fourth game ending in a tie.

Even in this edition, the two sides have had a rather patchy run in the league stage winning three each of their respective five matches and are locked on six points.

Pakistan started on the wrong foot by losing to India and then West Indies, but the Misbah-ul-Haq-led side bounced back with three comeback wins against Zimbabwe, UAE and South Africa -- the last being the most impressive.

Ireland, on the other hand, started off smoothly against West Indies when they chased down their 305-run target with ease and also got past UAE and Zimbabwe. But the William Porterfield-led side proved no match to India and South Africa.

But the Irish batsmen have certainly displayed better numbers than the maverick Pakistan batting order.

Apart from Misbah, who is the only Pakistani batsman to average over fifty, no other batsman has shown temperament or application and the team has crossed the 250-run mark just once, that too against an inexperienced UAE in Napier.

Pakistan’s batting coach Grant Flower said his batsmen should either shape up or ship out.

“I do expect the batsmen to deliver. That is what they are there for. They can bat a lot better than they have,” the former Zimbabwean star said.

“I would like to believe our best is yet to come. If we don’t, I don’t think we will go much further in the tournament,” he added.

Pakistan will also depend a lot on their pace battery, which struck gold against the mighty South Africans.

Left-arm pacers Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riz picked up three wickets each to flatten the Proteas batting and Ireland will be wary of the threat.

Fielding will also play a crucial as it has all through the tournament and once again Ireland hold the edge in that department as well.

But crucially, it will be a battle of nerves for two contrasting sides in the cricket world looking to prove a point to their respective fans.

The Teams (From):

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz.

Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Andy Balbirnie, Paul Stirling, Niall O’Brien, Kevin O’Brien, Ed Joyce, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, John Mooney, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wk), Craig Young Andy McBrine.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 6:37:58 PM |

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