Australia was the setting for Pakistan’s must win match against Ireland. The Irish won the toss and elected to bat. It was an encounter of Green shirts v Green shirts. Younis Khan and Mohammad Irfan were out injured, replaced by Haris Sohail and Ehsan Adil.
At the toss, the ‘stylish’ Ramiz Raja, wears a cream Fedora hat, with black band.
Ireland lost wickets at regular intervals, with Porterfield making an eloquent 107. Once again Pakistan’s seamers impressed, with sensational death bowling restricting the Irish to 237. Wahab Riaz led the pack with 3/54.
This gave Pakistan an opportunity to practice chasing down a score. Shehzad and Sarfraz opened cautiously but solidly built on the start with a partnership of 120. At this point Shehzad was out for 63. Pakistan’s batting today did not disappoint and confidently went about their business.
Sarfraz Ahmed made his maiden ODI century and became the first Pakistani to score a 100 in this World Cup. He completed 102 not out from 124 balls. He was cautious and safe but played with intent and determination.
Pakistan eventually won by 7 wickets. Ramiz Raja (still wearing his new hat) presented the Man of the Match award to Sarfraz Ahmed, second match running. Surely now Sarfraz’s critics have been silenced.
This was not an easy match to win, Ireland beat Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup in Jamaica, removing them from the tournament. Since that time there have been several close games between the two. Ireland play with pride and passion, they should certainly be given Test Match status.
Are Pakistan peaking at the right time? Memories of the 1992 World Cup are coming alive again. After a horrendous start the team built a crescendo to reach the top.
Basically now Pakistan are two matches away from the Final. On their day Pakistan can beat the strongest of teams. Their unpredictability can be a threatening weapon, taking teams unaware.
The Pakistan players led by Misbah, must play with passion and determination, showing no fear of their opposition. The rest is in the hands of Allah.
Next match: Quarter finals versus Australia, at Adelaide Oval on Friday 20th March.