THE party went long into the night in Adelaide’s Intercontinental Hotel and while the Ireland team may not have been celebrating a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, they had every right to toast a successful tournament.

Pakistan brought the curtain down on Ireland’s involvement with an emphatic seven wickets victory in Adelaide and underlined the differences between a team playing regular one-internationals and a team restricted to a 50-over global event every four years – for which qualifying has just got harder – and only nine top class games in the last four-year cycle.

While Ireland put up Alex Cusack, John Mooney and Stuart Thompson with their 130mph deliveries, the Irish batsmen had to face Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali bowling reverse swing at speeds up to 150mph. It wasn’t a fair contest and the outcome was inevitable long before the farcical end, delayed by Umar Akmal blocking out five balls to ensure Ahmad Shahzad scored his first ODI century at the 38 th attempt.

It was a remarkable innings as he batted throughout the 46.1 overs but scored half of his six boundaries in one over – the 10 th – two more in the 37 th and nothing else until his century. More importantly, it was Pakistan’s first hundred of the World Cup, the game before they return here on Friday to face Australia in the third quarter-final.

In contrast, Ireland captain William Porterfield scored Ireland’s second century of the World Cup to lay the platform for a late assault but when he was fifth out in the 39 th over, the Pakistan bowlers were just too good and Ireland managed only another 58 runs to finish on 237.

With such an under-par total, early wickets were the only way to way to induce panic into the Pakistan reply but a century opening stand in 18 overs all ended that hope. Stuart Thompson, who retained his place in an unchanged team, again made the breakthrough in his second spell – after conceding 14 in his first over – but a crazy run out and Misbah ul Haq, the Pakistan captain, stepping on his stumps presented Ireland with their only other wickets.

The Ireland batsmen were just as generous with five of them falling to top edges or mistimed pulls as they failed to follow their captain’s lead and for the first time in the tournament Ireland failed to compile a 50 partnership.
But, looking back, Porterfield spoke of his pride at beating two Full Members including West Indies who pipped Ireland to the final Group B quarter-final place only on run-rate.

“We’ve won three games and the games that we have lost we’ve just come up short at different stages. But overall, I’m very pleased with how the lads have stuck it and when we do reflect on it, I think we’ll be very happy with what we’ve come out and achieved,” he said.

“We came into today’s game with a lot of confidence in how we are playing and that’s a testament to where we’ve come and where we are at the minute as a team.”

Porterfield promised that Craig Young and Peter Chase will get game time this summer after admitting the young pace bowlers were “not ready to be pushed in just yet”.

Off the field, though, the future remains uncertain. Roy Torrens, the team manager has definitely supervised his last match and the waiting game is now under way to see who West Indies choose as their next coach; Phil Simmons is in the frame and was it just coincidence that he appeared to be singing Ireland’s Call rather most lustily than usual before the start of the match?