Pakistan gain revenge over Ireland
YOUNUS Khan’s message to his players before this final World Twenty20 Super Eight game against Ireland was simple: “Go out and crush them”.
The memory of Ireland’s stunning victory in the 2007 World Cup campaign in the West Indies obviously still hurts the proud Pakistan captain and he duly got his revenge with a 39 runs victory which was rarely in doubt.
Younus was one of only four survivors from the St Patrick’s Day defeat but it was another one, with an Irish past, that proved key to the result. Kamran Akmal played two seasons for Limavady in 2002-03 and his 57 runs, from 51 balls, laid the platform for Pakistan’s 159 for five.
Ireland, who finally gave Paul Stirling a game - he came in for Andre Botha - made a confident start to the reply but from 87 for two at the start of the 13th over, the wheels came off and they lost the next seven for 24.
Off spinner Saeed Ajmal started the collapse and Umer Gul, fresh from the best ever WorldT20 figures of five for six, against New Zealand on Saturday, finished it although he did not have to do anything but bowl straight, the Ireland batsman repeatedly giving themselves room to play him through the offside. When two of them missed Gul hit with deadly accuracy.
The sign s of improvement are still there, however, and Kyle McCallan and Boyd Ranki n not only ensured Ireland batted out the overs but they took the total past their scores against both India and New Zealand.
William Porterfield finished the tournament with a flourish, reaching 40 yesterday from 36 balls and Stirling announced his arrival with one of the shots of the day, a crashing cover drive on his way to 17 off 16 balls. The 18 year old has failed to reach double figures only once in his last 11 internationals.
Ireland’s biggest problem on the day was their inability to score boundaries. There were only six, 11 less than Pakistan, in the whole innings - the worst of the tournament - and only one in the last nine overs. Even Kevin O’Brien, despite a 30-ball stay, could not hit a maximum and had only two fours. Niall O’Brien, who passed a fitness test on his injured ankle was the first to go for seven and he still finished fourth top scorer.
The stand-out bowling of the day, however, was by an Ireland player. Boyd Rankin got bounce and movement in a hostile four overs which consistently had the Pakistan batsmen, literally and metaphorically, on the back foot.
He received good support from Kyle McCallan who claimed the vital wicket of Shahid Afridi with his third ball, just as the former Ireland professional was getting into his stride, having hit 24 from 13 balls.
Trent Johnston, however, started badly and Akmal and opening partner Shahzaib Hassan helped themselves to 20 off his second over. Even with just four runs and the wicket of Akmal in his last over, he still ended with the most expensive analysis (1-45) by an Ireland bowler in T20 internationals. Rankin’s (0-11) was the most economical.
Regan West and Alex Cusack each took a wicket but although the final performance was not good enough to bring that much-wanted Super Eight victory, Ireland are now well past the stage where any Full Member will ever take them for granted again.
Scores: Pakistan 159-5 (20 overs, K Akmal 57, S Afridi 24, S Hassan 23, Misbah-ul-Haq 20; K McCallan 2-26) Ireland 120-9 (W Porterfield 40, K O’Brien 26; S Amjal 4-19, U Gul 2-19). Pakistan won by 39 runs.