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Pakistan beats Ireland, advances to World Cup quarterfinals

March 15, 2015

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Eight years after Ireland’s famous St. Patrick’s Day win against Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup, it was a far different story Sunday at the Adelaide Oval.

Pakistan’s disciplined pace bowlers restricted Ireland to 237 and then the batsmen took over to help claim a seven-wicket win and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals.

After captain William Porterfield won the toss and provided Ireland’s only resistance at the crease, scoring his first World Cup century (107), Pakistan replied methodically, reaching its first 100 runs without loss as openers Sarfraz Ahmed (101 not out) and Ahmed Shehzad (63) found gaps in the Irish field placements.

Sarfraz’s century was Pakistan’s first of the tournament, leading his team to 241-3 in 46.1 overs. Umar Akmal (20 not out) spent much of his time in the final overs blocking shots in order to give Sarfraz the strike and a chance to reach 100.

The win moved Pakistan, which lost its first two matches before winning its next four, into a quarterfinal match at the same Adelaide ground on Friday against four-time champion Australia.

On March 17, 2007, Ireland, playing in its first World Cup, upset Pakistan by three wickets to eliminate Pakistan from the knockout rounds.

Pakistan’s Younis Khan, who played in that 2007 match but didn’t get a start Sunday, said revenge wasn’t in their minds. But the team wanted to win Sunday to honor the memory of former coach Bob Woolmer, who died in his hotel room the day after that loss in Kingston, Jamaica eight years ago.

Left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz took 3-54 and Sohail Khan had 2-44 to lead the Pakistan bowlers Sunday. It was Pakistan’s first win at the tournament while batting second.

“We need to give a lot of credit to the fast bowlers. It was a slow pitch and they bowled their hearts out,” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-haq said. “Sarfraz’s knock was brilliant and what was needed. We can win the World Cup. We have the momentum.”

It was a disappointing end to the tournament for second-tier team Ireland, which won three of six matches, including victories over higher-ranked teams West Indies and Zimbabwe.

“We were 40 to 50 short of what would have been a competitive total, so it makes it harder during the chase,” Porterfield said. “But once we did we were always trying to claw back, and they never let us back in the game. But credit to Pakistan and their bowlers.”

Ireland and the West Indies finished level on points, but the Caribbean side advanced to the quarterfinals on a better net run rate.

Porterfield said it didn’t matter that Ireland had beaten the West Indies in their pool match — the rule was that net run rate is used to determine higher placings.

“Our run rate was up there from the start, even the games we won, they were close,” said Porterfield. “It’s not something we are worried about. You have to separate the teams some way.”

Earlier, Porterfield, who was dropped on 99, was dismissed for 107 when caught by Shahid Afridi off the bowling of Khan.

Ireland didn’t reach 200 until the 44th over and its run rate dipped when Porterfield departed, losing 3-22 in one collapse and its last six wickets for 55 runs. Ireland also failed to establish any big partnerships, its longest being 48.

With St. Patrick’s Day two days away, the Irish crowd, some wearing oversized plush green top hats, were the more vocal in the stands but had little to cheer about for most of the match. The green in Pakistan’s flag, along with both teams decked out in similar colors, ensured that the hue was well represented around the ground.

While Ireland made no changes to its lineup for the match, Pakistan was without pace spearhead Mohammad Irfan, who had a hip injury. He’s expected to recover in time for the Australia match.

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