It almost seemed as though the ghosts of Kingston, in the 2007 World Cup were lurking around The Oval – Pakistan were playing Ireland for a place in the semi-finals of the WT20. Man of the Match Kamran Akmal (57) starred with the bat and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal with the ball as Pakistan prevailed by 39 runs.
Ireland got off to a dire start – losing Niall O’Brian early for 7. Young Paul Stirling and skipper William Porterfield tried to resurrect the innings, and laid a decent platform for a late charge. But once Pakistan brought on their spinners, that charge was never to come. Porterfield was the only Irish batsman to put his hand up with a 36-ball 40, largely accumulated by hard-run singles and twos.
Ajmal started the collapse with a wicket off his first ball and followed it up with three other wickets to end with figures of 4/19. Fresh from his fiver against New Zealand, Umar Gul polished off the tail. Ireland folded up for 120/9, ending their campaign in the WT20.
Earlier Pakistan got off to a reasonably good start after choosing to bat, thanks to Akmal and Shahzaib Hasan (23). Except for Boyd Rankin the duo were severe on every other bowler in their sights. Hasan’s departure gave Younis Khan the freedom to send Shahid Afridi at No. 3 to dent the Irish bowlers early. He looked busy as he raced to a 13-ball 24. No one, except Akmal, got in and having reached his fifty off 46 balls, he decided to go for the charge and soon departed for a well-made 57.
Pakistan’s middle-order struggled to put big scores, but their handy 10s and 20s ensured that they reached a challenging 159.
Pakistan: Kamran Akmal b Johnston 57, Shahzaib Hasan c McCallan b Cusack 23, Shahid Afridi c Mooney b McCallan 24, Younis Khan b West 10, Misbah-ul-Haq c NJ O'Brien b McCallan 20, Abdul Razzaq not out 15, Shoaib Malik not out 4;
Extras: (lb 3, w 2, nb 1) 6; Total (for 5 wkts in 20 ovrs) 159
Fall of wickets: 1-38, 2-78, 3-102, 4-133, 5-141
Bowling: Rankin 4-0-11-0, Johnston 4-0-45-1, Cusack 4-0-41-1, West 4-0-33-1, McCallan 4-0-26-2
Ireland: W Porterfield c Younis Khan b Saeed Ajmal 40, NJ O'Brien c & b M Aamer 7, P Stirling b Shahid Afridi 17, KJ O'Brien st K Akmal b S Ajmal 26, JF Mooney c Abdul Razzaq b S Ajmal 2, D Johnston b Umar Gul 0, A White b U Gul 5, A Cusack st K Akmal b S Ajmal 2, W McCallan not out 2, R West run out 1, W Rankin not out 5
Extras: (b 1, lb 7, w 3, nb 2) 13; Total: (for 9 wkts in 20 ovrs) 120;
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-42, 3-87, 4-93, 5-99, 6-108, 7-110, 8-110, 9-111
Bowling: Aamer 4-0-19-1, Razzaq 3-0-18-0, Afridi 4-0-26-1, Ajmal 4-0-19-4, Malik 1-0-11-0, Gul 4-0-19-2.