Pakistan, one of the Asian giants, reached quarters in the ongoing cricket world cup by beating Ireland in style by 7 wickets in a must-win encounter. It is also sweet revenge for the ignominious defeat they suffered in the hands of Ireland in 2007 World cup, a defeat that will certainly rank as one of the worst in the country’s cricket history.
Having chosen to bat first after winning the toss, Ireland looked steady at 180/4 with skipper William Porterfield making a fighting hundred, but all they could manage was just 237 thanks to some excellent bowling by the Pakistani pacers.
And as expected, the Pakistani batsmen made short work of the target. Pakistan, the cornered tigers are now back in the reckoning!
Ireland, though eliminated, can certainly walk with their heads held high. By thrashing West Indies in the tournament, they justified the tag of giant-killers that they earned after stunning Pakistan in 2007 and hammering England from a hopeless position in 2011 World cup.
Considering their near-perfect record against associate teams and spirited performances against top teams, Ireland deserves to compete with full member nations more regularly. They are sure to make rapid strides and emerge as a force to be reckoned with.
Coming back to Pakistan, it got off to a disastrous start in the tournament with two crushing defeats in first two games but they bounced back splendidly with four consecutive victories. The key to their resurgence has been their bowlers, who often bowled menacing and miserly spells.
The pace battery of Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali proved to be a tough nut to crack and even in death overs, they rarely got hammered and more often than not, they managed to choke the opposition batsmen. The contribution of wicket-keeper Sarfraj Ahmed with the willow at the top of the order is another crucial factor for Pakistan’s success.
However, overcoming the mighty Kangaroos in the quarters, who are one of the hot-favourites to clinch the cup, may prove to be a task little too much for the highly erratic Pak. Restricting the rampaging Aussie batsmen and tackling the deadly pace battery led by Mitchell Starc will be a herculean task for Pakistan.
The odds are stacked heavily against them in the quarters and unless they put in a splendid performance, they are bound to get crushed under the wheels of the Aussie juggernaut!!!