Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pakistan gets through to Semi Finals

Pakistan rubbed the harsh reminiscences of the 2007 World Cup beating Ireland contentedly by 39 runs to make sure passage into the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 Cup at The Oval on Monday. Two year ago in the West Indies, the Pakistanis were knocked out of the quadrennial global event by the unfancied Irish, a devastating happening that led to the death of their coach Bob Woolmer.

However, this afternoon, Pakistani cricketers ensured no repeat of that disaster and batting first on winning the toss piled up a decent total of 159 for 9 in which the major man was wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal with 59 runs with shots of five fours and a six.

Then off-spinner Saeed Ajmal spun his web of trick and controlled Ireland to 120 for 9 claiming his tournament’s first four wickets drag for 39 with only captain William Porterfield providing fight with top score of 40.

Requiring a win to move into the semi-finals, Pakistan accomplished just that with an competent performance. The margin was also sufficient to lift their net run-rate to 1.19, ensuring there’s no way both New Zealand and Sri Lanka can finish with as many points and a higher rate.

Apart from Akmal, none of the other Pakistan batsmen got huge scores, but there were sensible partnerships for almost every wicket, ensuring there was no repeat of the collapse which had knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 World Cup.

Akmal held the innings jointly with a measured knock. The self-confidence of having scored runs in the earlier games was clearly on display, and he was decisive with his footwork and generally sound with his shot selection.

Shahzaib Hasan (23) and Shahid Afridi ( 24) promoted up the order to No.3, did not get big scores but they provided the early impetus. Shahzaib kept lofting the pitched-up deliveries over the infield, hitting three fours and six while Afridi had three hits to the ropes as he thrashed Cusack and West through the off side before Kyle McCallan removed him with an off break.

Misbahul Haq made 20 while Razzaq was unbeaten on 15 as Pakistan reached a challenging total.

New ball bowler Trent Johnston had a nightmare game, conceding 20 in his second over and 12 in his third, as the Pakistani batsmen picked him off their legs quite effortlessly. However, he managed to dismiss Akmal with an excellent fourth over, picking up the batsman with a yorker and conceding only four runs.

Target of 160 was always beyond Ireland though Porterfield fought gustily for his 36-ball 40, but hit his first four in the tenth over of the innings, by which time the asking rate had already climbed to nine and a half.

Pakistan struck 13 fours and four sixes; Ireland only managed six fours.
Pakistan’s bowlers were all disciplined, with Mohammad Aamer getting rid of the dangerous Niall O’Brien early. Afridi and Saeed Ajmal offered few scoring opportunities, while Umar Gul continued from where he had left off against New Zealand, claiming two for 19 and took his tally of wickets to 12 .

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