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Irish coup sends Pakistan home

Pakistan were eliminated from the World Cup after they were embarrassed by a spirited Ireland team on St Patrick’s Day as they failed to defend their paltry 132 in the Group D match at Sabina Park.

[Agencies add: Ireland captain Trent Johnston was seeking medical treatment for an injured shoulder, just hours after his victory.

“I’ve got some sort of rotator cuff problem in the left shoulder, after I injured it diving for a ball,” said Johnston. “Hopefully, I can get it right in the next six days, so I’ve got to take it easy, and watch the rest of the boys party.”]

Wicketkeeper Niall ’Brien, who will play at Northamptonshire this year, scored a crucial 72 as Ireland reached 133 for seven after the target was recalculated because of a rain delay. Slumping from 108 for five to 113 for seven in the 35th over tested their nerves but they survived.

The result is a coup for the Irish, who will almost certainly progress to the Super Eights. As for Pakistan, they can expect burning effigies on the streets of Karachi if the past is anything to go on.

Extras were Pakistan’s top scorer with 29, which summed up their inadequacies as all 10 batsmen were out caught. The highest off the bat was Kamran Akmal’s 27.

From the first ball the Pakistanis batted nervously, like a team who knew they would almost certainly be on the next plane to Lahore — after their third group match against Zimbabwe — with defeat to an Ireland side making their World Cup debut.

Conversely, the Irish fielded with intensity and bowled with a maturity that belied their inexperience. Derbyshire’s new recruit, the six-foot-seven seamer Boyd Rankin, took three for 32 from nine overs, including 13 wides.

The loss of Mohammad Hafeez to the sixth ball of the match, when he was caught behind by ’Brien off delivery driver David LangfordSmith, buoyed the Irish immediately.

Younis Khan, with two centuries in his 150 one-day Internationals, again belied his superior Test capabilities by edging Rankin to slip for a third-ball duck.

Pakistan’s two most experienced players Mohammed Yousuf and captain Inzamam-ul Haq fell within three balls of each other. An uncharacteristic, lofted square drive by Yousuf off Trent Johnston to point made it 56 for three.

If ever Pakistan required a captain’s innings from Inzamam, playing his fifth World Cup, now was it. But he was unable to deliver and perished three balls later. That was 58 for four. The only surprise about the fifth wicket — that of opener Imran Nazir — was that he lasted so long. His constant playing (or thrashing) and missing proved why coach Bob Woolmer was perturbed by his selection for the tournament ahead of the steadier Imran Farhat.

Like Inzamam, Nazir was caught at slip by Middlesex batsman Eoin Morgan off medium-pacer Andre Botha, who ended up with the absurd figures of two for five from eight overs.

The Irish players had planned to party with their families on the north coast at Ochos Rios after the match, having gone without a ‘proper drink’ following the Zimbabwe match. But their celebrations were expected to be more of national pride and for giving the Zimbabweans a run for their money — certainly not for beating Inzamam & Co.

Pakistan, at 72 for six following Shoaib Malik’s wicket, were given hope of a fight-back when Akmal and Azhar Mahmood added 31 runs. But instead of looking to use up the 50 overs, they attempted ambitious strokes. Mahmood played a pull shot to a ball that wasn't all that short and was caught at mid-on off Rankin. Akmal followed four balls later, athletically caught by Johnston.

Pakistan did reduce Ireland to 15 for two through Mohammed Sami’s speedy in-swingers to the left-handers. Then, they were in the match, and the World Cup. Two umpiring errors by South African Brian Jerling, when he rejected two lbw shouts from Mahmood, sealed Pakistan’s fate.

The official, though, did hand them one back when giving out William Porterfield caught at bat-pad off Sami when the ball missed his bat by six inches.

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