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Pakistan beat Ireland to reach semis

Fri, Jun 26, 2009 1:23 PM


Pakistan clinched a place in the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 2009 on Monday by beating Ireland by 39 runs at the Oval.

"It was a crucial win for us," Pakistan captain Younus Khan said. "It was all about run rate and getting a bit of confidence for our batsmen."

Kamran Akmal top scored with 57 to help Pakistan reach 159-5, hitting five boundaries and a six in 51 balls, while Shahid Afridi was the next highest scorer with 24 from 13 balls.

Kyle McCallan took 2-26 and was the pick of the Irish attack that did well to limit Pakistan's scoring. Boyd Rankin bowled tightly and conceded just 11 runs from four overs, although he failed to take a wicket.

In reply, Ireland fell behind the required run rate, despite 40 from captain and opener William Porterfield.

Kevin O'Brien made 26, but Saeed Ajmal took 4-19 and Umar Gul 2-19 as Ireland finished on 120-9.

Khan won the toss and elected to bat, altering the established order.

"The batting order was always going to be flexible because we needed to get a couple of players in form for the semi-finals and the final," he said. "Players like Shahid Afridi have been doing really well with the ball, but have struggled with the bat, so this was ideal for us."

The contrast between Ireland's opening bowlers was acute.

Rankin bowled with controlled aggression from the Vauxhall End and was unlucky not to take a wicket. But Trent Johnston struggled with his control, conceding 45 runs from his four overs, including 20 from his last.

He was replaced by Alex Cusack, who had taken four wickets on Sunday against Sri Lanka, and the switch immediately paid off when he had Shahzaib Hasan caught by McCallan at mid-off.

Pakistan was 38-1 after the power-play, but Shahid Afridi joined Akmal and scored quickly before he was caught by John Mooney off McCallan in the 10th over.

Three overs later, Regan West bowled Khan's leg stump as the Pakistan captain tried to sweep.

Johnston returned from the Vauxhall End to bowl Akmal in the 17th over and Misbah-ul-Haq was caught by Niall O'Brien in the 18th, three balls after hitting Kyle McCallan for six over long on.

In the last over, Abdul Razzaq added 13 with Shoaib Malik, including a six off Cusack that nearly cleared the Pavilion.

In reply, Ireland lost Niall O'Brien in the third over, caught and bowled by Mohammad Aamer, and were just 33-1 at the end of the powerplay, with the run rate already creeping up to nearly nine an over.

With last ball of the following over Afridi bowled Paul Stirling.

Porterfield and Kevin O'Brien reached 66-2 after 10 overs, but the former was caught by Khan off Ajmal in the 14th, with the score on 87-3 and Ireland needing an improbable 12 an over.

Razzaq dropped O'Brien off the second ball of the 16th over, bowled by Ajmal, but two balls later redeemed himself by holding on to an almost identical shot by John Mooney at long on.

With the first ball of the next over Johnston's leg stump was sent spinning out of the ground by Gul.

In the 18th over Ajmal had both O'Brien and Cusack stumped by Akmal and the collapse continued as Gul bowled White with the first ball of the next over.

Reagan West was run out two balls later and Ireland's participation in the tournament was effectively over.

"I think we've learned an awful lot," Porterfield said. "With the fielding we can compete with the best teams and set respectable totals, but with the batting we need to step up.

"To restrict Pakistan to 160 on that pitch with that outfield was a great effort."

After an indifferent start to the tournament, Khan now feels Pakistan's chances are excellent - if they can score more runs.

"It's only two games more and we can win the World Cup," he said. "But nobody knows what will happen in the next two games, especially against teams like England, South Africa and West Indies. They're all good teams and you need 170 plus."



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