AUCKLAND: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq urged his team to build on the momentum gained over the last two weeks as they clash with Ireland in a must-win World Cup game at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
The last league match in the month-long group stage will steer the winner into the quarter-finals and leave the loser facing a tricky run-rate countback against the West Indies.
A likely win for the West Indies over the United Arab Emirates earlier on Sunday will bring them level with Pakistan and Ireland on six points to set up a keen finish for the knock-out rounds.
Pakistan lost their opening two matches against old foes India and the West Indies, but bounced back to win the next three to prove once again they are one of the most unpredictable sides in world cricket.
One of those included a stunning success over mighty South Africa in Auckland where they bowled the Proteas out for 202 after making just 222.
“We have got a new life in this tournament and we must ensure we do not waste it,” said the 40-year-old Misbah, who along with team-mate Shahid Afridi, will quit one-day cricket once their World Cup ends.
“There are four must-wins games to play starting with the one against Ireland. Then three more and you could win the tournament, so our approach has to be straightforward.
“There will be no second chance. Just go there, be positive, try to get wickets when you bowl and score runs when you bat. The bowlers have done very well so far, it’s now the turn of the batsmen to deliver.”
Misbah’s four half-centuries in five matches have stood out in an otherwise uninspiring batting display where Pakistan have crossed 250 just once when they hammered 339 for six against the amateurs from the United Arab Emirates.
“The key in this World Cup has been to keep wickets in hand till the 35th over and then go for the runs. I think teams who have been able to do this have won 90 percent of the time.
“We would like someone to take responsibility and bat the entire innings so that the momentum can be built from the other end. We have four good seamers in form, its now up to the batsmen to put runs on the board.”
Ireland scored a famous three-wicket win over Pakistan when the teams last met in the World Cup in 2007 and Misbah conceded his team needed to be at their best to make the quarter-finals.
“That was eight years ago and we are not looking back, but I agree Ireland are a dangerous team. Everybody knows their strength is batting. They have a pretty mature batting line-up.
“We really have to play our best cricket to beat them.”
Pakistan’s progress in this World Cup is similar to the one by Imran Khan’s men when the tournament was last played Down Under in 1992, rising from the brink of elimination to be crowned champions.
Misbah said while his team will be inspired by the events of 23 years ago, success could not be achieved just by dreaming of it.
“We can certainly take some positives from that and be motivated to do well,” he said. “But you just can’t sit back and say that since we did it in 1992 we will do it again.
“It does not work that way. We have to perform well on the field to succeed.” -AFP