What a Saint Patrick's Day. After two matches in the World Cup Ireland are undefeated, and are on target to qualify for the Super 8 stage. Even those who thought Ireland had the potential to cause an upset in their Group did not target this match to be that upset. Yes the pitch had an emerald green hue to it, and yes Ireland won the toss and had the advantage of bowling first. However, Ireland then turned round to make best use of their opportunity and from the start of the match were always in a position to win.
Ireland and Pakistan had met three times, the last one being back in 1987. Of those three Pakistan had won 2 and the other was drawn. Neither side had any representatives from the last time the teams had met.
Ireland were unchanged for this game. Pakistan had lost their opening game in the Group to West Indies. Pakistan had some problems with injuries and suspensions. Their two quickest bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif failed drug tests some months ago and had been suspended for a year. However, an appeal to the Pakistan Cricket Board was successful, mush to the chagrin of the general sporting world. ICC had initiated proceedings to bring the matter to the Court of Arbitration in Lausanne. However, at the last minute both bowlers were said to have injuries and were left out of the Pakistan squad. There was a feeling that there may have been internal drug tests held which suggested they were not clear of the drugs and might have failed a test at the World Cup. In addition one of their most explosive players, Shahid Afridi, who had been one of Ireland's overseas players in last year's C & G tournament, had been suspended for four ODI's as a result of an incident in the tour of South Africa and therefore was not available for this match. Pakistan left out Danish Kaneria, their leg spinner for this game. While the pitch might not have suited him, nevertheless the Irish team, given their inexperience in playing top class spinners, will not have been too disappointed.
Ian Callender, Mail on Sunday
Ireland are on the verge of the Super Eight stages of the World Cup finals after a stunning three wicket victory over the might of Pakistan. Although rain and bad light threatened a premature finish to the third Group D game in Sabina Park, Ireland, in spite of losing four wickets for 81, were comfortably ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis target. O'Brien went at 108, next ball after a magnificent six, but although the next three wickets went for just four, including ducks for Andre Botha and Kyle McCallan, Ireland limped over the line with plenty to spare. The final runs, a six, came off the bat of captain Trent Johnston to finish the innings at 133-7.
The bowlers were the real heroes, dismissing Pakistan for 132 and Niall O'Brien with an undefeated 54 was still there when the rain started to fall. It is humiliation and embarrassment for Pakistan who are out of the finals, while for Ireland and their supporters they can now dream of staying here until April 18 with another six games in the next stage, against all the other qualifiers, after Friday's final group game against West Indies.
Even two of the wickets that fell in the Ireland innings were proven to be bad decisions on the television replays, Jeremy Bray adjudged leg before to a swinging delivery from Mohammad Sami and Andre Botha was given out to a spectacular catch at short leg. The problem was that he was not within 6 inches of the ball. In between, Morgan was palpably beaten by a swinging yorker from Sami and William Porterfield's 50-ball endurance, which yielded 13 runs, was ended when he went back instead of forward to Mohammad Hafeez. O'Brien, however, would not be moved, bringing up his 50 from 74 balls and then celebrating with the shot of the day, a square-cut off Umar Gul.
Yes, it was a helpful pitch, with more than a tinge of green. It was perfect for St Patrick's Day but to bowl out Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan and the rest of the all-star cast inside 46 overs was beyond Ireland's wildest dreams. Pakistan's Big Three scored only 16 runs between them and Kamran Akmal and opener Imran Nazir were the only batsmen to get into the 20's. The bowlers were all heroes but it was Boyd Rankin who was the most successful. He took two wickets in the second over of his comeback spell to reduce Pakistan to 106-8 and Kyle McCallan then finished off the innings, tempting the tail to hit into the deep where his fielders hung on.
The dramatic tie against Zimbabwe in their opening game on Thursday was spoilt by poor fielding but this time they caught everything within reach and the ground fielding, led by William Porterfield, was excellent. The other big difference between the first two games was that Trent Johnston won the toss and had no hesitation in asking Pakistan to bat. Wides were Ireland's weakness, though, but as the wickets continued to fall at regular intervals for the first 20 overs they were forgotten. It took David Langford-Smith just eight balls to get the Irish supporters dancing in the stands. An away swinger found the edge of Mohammad Hafeez's bat and Niall O'Brien made no mistake. 7-1. Enter the first of the Pakistan big guns, Younis Khan. He faced only three balls in three overs in the middle and then, pushing tentatively forward to Rankin, he edged to first slip where Andre Botha took the catch. 15-2. Yousuf, batsmen of the year in 2006, then joined Imran and with the substantial help of wides, they had added 41 for the third wicket when Johnston brought himself on the 13th over. Yousuf stroked four through the covers off his fourth ball, the next was a no-ball and, attempting a similar stroke off the fifth ball he could only steer it to backward point into the hands of Porterfield. 56-3. Next in was the Pakistan captain. Surely Inzamam-ul-Haq couldn't fail as well. A single first ball got him off the mark but in Andre Botha's next over he edged to the only surviving slip and Eoin Morgan, diving low, held that as well. 58-4, the best 3, 4 and 5 in world cricket back in the pavilion …. Ireland were in dreamland.
Richard Gillis, Irish Times
Get your passport out, this is turning into a hell of a ride. Ireland's cricketers pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history at Sabina Park on Saturday. A two-week jolly just turned serious. By beating Pakistan, Ireland have become favourites to proceed to the Super Eights, the group stage of the tournament. You know, that was not supposed to be.
After a Paddy's Night to remember, the players and their travelling band of supporters are looking forward to the very real prospect of a trip to Guyana, and the probable first match against England on March 30. If West Indies and Pakistan beat Zimbabwe, Ireland are through. In all, qualification for the Super Eights would involve seven games over three weeks on a tour of duty also taking in Barbados and Grenada.
"Luck of the Irish" shouted the front page of the Jamaican Sunday Herald today after one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history. They got it wrong. When big teams go down, there is a thirst for analysis. How could it happen? This one is pretty simple to call. Ireland bowled better, fielded and batted better. Far from being felled by a puncher's lucky strike, Pakistan, ranked fourth in the world, were dismembered with precision by Ireland's group of semi-professional club players. But for a blip in fading light towards the end of the day, it was a clinical piece of work.
To put the bowling performance in context, this is the second lowest total scored by Pakistan in a World Cup. Ireland reached Pakistan's revised total of 128 with three wickets in hand and 5.2 overs to spare. Over the last week Jamaica have extended a warm welcome to the travelling Irish, and on Saturday took their hospitality to a new high. The groundsman produced a Paddy's Day wicket that owed more to Croke Park than Sabina Park, green and grassy, with an underlying dampness. The toss was critical. Captain Trent Johnston's smile when the coin came down revealed all. "We'll have a bowl", he told the waiting TV anchor. And bowl they did, Langford-Smith removing opener Mohammad Hafeez with just seven on the board. The Pakistan middle order is arguably the best in the world. Collectively Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq have amassed over 40,000 runs in all forms of international cricket. On Saturday they scored 16 between them. Last year Yousuf scored more test match runs in a calendar year than anyone in history, beating Vivian Richards 1976 record. He came to the wicket here at 15-2. He stroked two cover-drives that banged in to the boards of the Party Stand, as if demanding silence. He went trying a third, caught at point by William Porterfield, an exceptional fielder.
Inzamam followed quickly to Andre Botha, whose astonishing figures of 2-5 off eight overs would have secured many a Man-of-the-Match award. Medium paced in swing suffocated the middle of the innings, building pressure on the lesser lights. "Are you England in disguise?" shouted the Blarney Army from their enclave under the big scoreboard. One delivery from Boyd Rankin spat off the wicket at Azhar Mahmood, who pulled off his glove as much in anger as pain. It was the sort of delivery that saps the energy of a player, and tests his reserves of courage. So it proved, as Mahmood's resistance was over next ball. Too short to pull and on to him quickly, he top-edged to Johnston who took a good catch over his left shoulder at mid-wicket. The captain then went one better. His catch to remove Mohammad Sami summed up his one-eyed commitment to the cause. Running full pelt towards the North Stand, Johnson dived full length to hold on to a stunning catch. It was a brilliant piece of work made more impressive because he went into the game with an injured shoulder, picked up in the Zimbabwe game. He lay face down on the pitch, arms out-stretched, his team-mates diving in to celebrate. As the physio administered treatment he still had the ball in his hands. The final wicket was caught by 12th man John Mooney, who soloed in front of the ecstatic travelling support.
The Ireland innings began under a pewter sky, the light marginal for play. Sami immediately looked menacing. Bending the ball into the left-hander's pads at just over 90 mph, lbw was a constant threat. Porterfield survived a close call the umpire believing, wrongly, the ball had hit bat before pad, a let off. But perhaps making up for his error, umpire Brian Jerling gave the first of two genuine shockers, giving Jeremy Bray out to a ball that started on middle before swerving wide of leg stump. One down and Bray, the hero of the Zimbabwe game, gone. Just what Ireland wanted to avoid. Then Eoin Morgan went to another lbw from Sami. Nerves were frayed. An innings of substance was needed. Enter Niall O'Brien. His 72 won the game for Ireland on a pitch where no other batsmen reached 30. He walked to the wicket short of runs, not that you'd know it from his demeanour, his chin held high under his green helmet. There is substance beneath the bullish, cocky front. A series of beautifully timed off-drives added impetus to the innings at the right time. His technique is compact, and he plays straighter than most. His defensive shots were hitting mid-offs hands, a good sign.
As the runs flowed he got more attention from the Pakistan bowlers. Sami extended his follow through to within talking distance. It was a dodgy tactic, the verbals met with a grin. "You should hear what they say in North County" was the message. The Pakistan bowlers failed to exploit conditions that were arguably worse, certainly in terms of light, than they had faced earlier in the day. It was now very gloomy. The numbers on the electronic scoreboard shone bright orange. The monitors in the hospitality boxes flickered in the gloom. As wickets started to fall at the other end, O'Brien was joined by his brother, Kevin. How their dad, Ginger, a former Ireland international, must have felt.
Offered the light, the batsmen scampered off. Then the rain came. So happy to see it were the massed ranks in the Party Stand they stood staring into the sky arms outstretched. Two days away from home and you start to miss the stuff. When the innings resumed, Pakistan's total of 132 had been reduced by 5 for the delay. Niall O'Brien advanced down to hit six over mid-on. He went next ball, stumped attempting a repeat. A flurry of wickets followed. This was nerve-shredding staff. Flame-haired Kevin O'Brien was stoic. The figures do him little justice. This was a 16 of gargantuan proportions. With 10 needed, he hit a square cut. The ground erupted, the tension pierced. The Pakistani fielders chased it down in vain. The crowd moved en masse to a reggae beat. The giant inflatable leprechaun was getting a pummelling. One last blow, a six over mid-on by the captain, and Ireland were home.
The Man-of-The-Match award went to Niall O'Brien for his fine knock. In the context of this match it was probably worth a century in many another game. During the course of his innings, when he reached 62, he became the 43rd batsman to reach 1,000 runs for Ireland, in his 32nd Match and 33rd innings.
The Irish celebrations after this game were muted when news broke the following morning of the death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. He had been found unconscious in his room and was taken to hospital but died without regaining consciousness. A few days later the Jamaica police announced that he had been strangled, after it initially appeared that death might have been due to natural causes. The ICC announced that the World Cup would continue as scheduled but obviously the murder of Woolmer was the story that gained the World headlines.
Ireland suffered their own tragedy when the death occurred of Bob Kerr, former Chairman and President of the ICU, in Jamaica where he, together with his wife Hope, was supporting the team.
- Boyd Rankin is congratulated
- Boyd Rankin bowling
- Dave Langford-Smith appeals
- Andre Botha who took 2-5 in 8 overs
- Kenny Carroll
- Billy Bowden signals a wide
- Langford-Smith delighted at getting a wicket
- The fans go wild
- Kyle Mc Callan and Niall O Brien
- John Mooney takes a catch
- Ireland celebrate
- Dave Langford-Smith
- Kevin O' Brien
- Pakistani supporters
- Porterfield attempts to run out Rao
- Trent Johnston appeals
- Jeremy Bray takes a great catch
- Kevin and Niall O Brien combine to take a wicket
- A big appeal by Rankin
- Kyle Mc Callan
- Azhar Mahmood pulls
- Rankin and Porterfield celebrate
- Trent Johnston takes a wonder catch
- A square drive
- Andre Botha dismisses Inzaman-ul-Haq
- Eoin Morgan congratulated by the team
- Jeremy Bray batting
- Mohammed Sami
- William Porterfield off drives
- The Pakistan slip cordon
- Porterfield and Niall O' Brien
- Porterfield plays and misses
- Niall O' Brien hooks
- Azhar Mahmood
- Porterfield is bowled
- 50 for Niall O' Brien
- Niall and Kevin O' Brien
- Kevin O' Brien
- Jerling signals six
- Andrew White gives asimple catch to short leg
- Anxious Irish media
- The scorebaord says it all!
- Andre Botha
- Kevin O' Brien and Paul Mooney
- Andrew White
- Eoin Morgan
- Adrian and Trent
- William Porterfield
- The late Bob Woolmer leaves the field with Inzaman-ul- Haq
- Adrian Birrell and Phil Simmons