Ireland bow out of World Cup despite Porterfield century
Mon, Mar 16, 2015 10:20 AM
Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup quarter- finals came unstuck in Adelaide on Sunday as Phil Simmons' charges fell to a 7-wicket defeat against Pakistan, a result that sees them lose out to West Indies in the scrap for fourth place in Pool B.
It was a cruel end to what has been a superb campaign for the Irish boys; the final qualifying spot conceded only on Net Run Rate to a team they completely outplayed in their opening game of the tournament.
Ireland can have no complaints about Sunday's result however as the Pakistan bowlers highlighted the value of a top quality attack, especially in those crucial last 15 overs.
Having won the toss and elected to bat first with an unchanged starting XI, skipper William Porterfield was to be the rock on which their innings was built.
The batting side lost Paul Stirling (3) early in the piece before the skipper bossed a 45-run stand with Ed Joyce (11). That ended when the latter was out-foxed by a quick one from Wahab Riaz giving Umar Akmal, enjoying a day off from keeping, the first of his four catches.
Porterfield went to his 50 with a four off Shahid Afridi before Niall O?Brien (12) was also caught close in by Akmal to leave the score 86-3. A 48-run stand between Porterfield and Andrew Balbirne (18) got things going again however Pakistan picked up another timely wicket when Balbirnie found Afridi on the edge of the circle to give the fielding side another lift.
Porterfield went on to make a thoroughly deserved century and while he and Gary Wilson were together Ireland briefly threatened a total of around 280. All that was to change however as the skipper was finally caught by Afridi off the bowling of Khan for 107 (11 fours and a six) but having taken the score to 182 for 4 the batting side were then unable to capitalise.
Wilson went soon after, his 29 was the second highest contribution of the innings with no-one else getting to 20 as Pakistan bowled superbly. The last 10 overs- so productive as a rule throughout this competition- was to be a disaster for Ireland, yielding just 49 runs in all as the innings closed on 237 all out from the full 50 overs.
Riaz was the pick of the attack with 3-54 while Khan (2-44) and Rahat Ali (2-48) also bowled well but it was a story of Ireland losing wickets too frequently and in fairly similar circumstances throughout.
Pakistan's reply was emphatic to begin with as Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed controlled things from the start. At one point there will have been fears in the Irish corner that these two would do it on their own, however that ignominy was spared when Stuart Thompson had the former caught by Ed Joyce for 63.
The opening stand was worth 120 and although Haris Sohail was run out for just 3 soon after, Sarfraz and skipper Misbah Ul Haq took Pakistan to the verge of victory. Alex Cusack forced Misbah back on to his stumps for 39 just before the end but Sarfraz and Umar Akmal ensured there was to be no way back for Ireland albeit they dragged the end out for what seemed like an eternity to ensure the opener reached his century (102*).
Despite the disappointment it has been a fantastic World Cup for Ireland and once again they have added momentum to the campaign for their elevation to the ranks of full membership with some quality performances.
Most observers suspect it will be difficult for the governing body to overlook what has become a groundswell of opinion backing that campaign.
It is something that will wait for another day however because for now their involvement in this tournament, and no doubt the World Cup careers of one or two of the current staff, ends with heads held high.