Saturday 17 March 2007 

Shamrock Meets Jam-Rock As Ireland Beat Pakistan

Ireland have pulled off a remarkable victory over Pakistan in Jamaica thanks to a vital innings of 72 from Niall O'Brien and another disciplined bowling and fielding performance.

The result now leaves Pakistan in desperate trouble and unlikely to reach the Super 8 stage of the World Cup.

Ireland, whose target was reduced to 128 from 47 overs, reached the total for the loss of 7 wickets with 5.2 overs to spare.

Earlier, Ireland's part-time cricketers bowled out Pakistan for 132 in a World Cup Group D match to leave the 1992 champions facing early elimination on Saturday.

This was a game that Pakistan could not afford to lose having lost their opener against hosts West Indies on Tuesday, also at Sabina Park.
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With Ireland having already secured a point from their tied match against Zimbabwe earlier in the week, Pakistan face almost certain elimination if they are beaten on Saturday.

Pakistan began losing wickets from the first over when Mohammad Hafeez (4) was caught behind from seamer David Langford-Smith to the sixth ball of the match.

The usually-reliable Younis Khan then followed with a third-ball nought, caught at slip off seamer Boyd Rankin, to make the score 15-2.

Mohammad Yousuf, another batsman that Pakistan look to when they need to steady the innings, lasted just 31 balls before he drove to point and was caught for 15 off Irish skipper Trent Johnston. That was 56-3.

The loss of skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq in the next over was the moment when the Irish party on St Patrick's Day really began. He edged the South African-born medium-pacer Andre Botha to Eoin Morgan at slip for one and it was 58-4.

Opener Imran Nazir, renowned for his attacking strokeplay, was probably not the batsman Pakistan wanted in their crisis and his regular playing and missing was soon followed by an edge to slip Morgan off Botha.

Shoaib Malik, Pakistan's top scorer with 62 in the West Indies match, looked at ease for the 25 balls he lasted, including a firmly hit straight drive off Johnston.

But he became the sixth victim when the score was 72 as he edged seamer Kevin O'Brien to his wicketkeeper brother Niall O'Brien, who was standing up.
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There was still hope while all-rounder Azhar Mahmood and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal were at the crease.

But they both fell within four balls to Rankin in the 31st over.

First Mahmood played an irresponsible pull shot to a ball that was not all that short and was caught by skipper Johnston at mid-on.

The score of 103-7 then became 105-8 when the same combination accounted for Akmal, who also mistimed an attacking shot and was brilliantly caught by a diving Johnston.

The recalled Mohammad Sami and Rao Iftikhar Anjum added 25 valuable runs together but it was not enough as all 10 batsmen were out caught.

Pakistan will face Zimbabwe in their final Group D match on March 21.

The seven-week World Cup culminates with the April 28 final in Barbados.

© Reuters 2007. (Additional reporting by John Pennington.)