ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Ireland v Pakistan

With just two games left in the group stages of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and two places still available in the next phase, Ireland’s cricketers have their fate in their own hands.  They play Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval early tomorrow morning [3.30am (GMT)] with the winner guaranteed a place in the knock-out stage.  As I may have mentioned…

Cricket Ireland reports on captain, William Porterfield, at the press conference

Talking about his teams approach to the game and the biggest challenges that lie ahead for the team.

“It’s just another game of the group in terms of preparation. We spoke about it before the group started, taking each game as an individual game, and I think we’ve managed to do that throughout the competition.

“I think coming down the back end of the group stage, obviously the games come a bit thicker and faster, so you have slightly less time to prepare. But I think all the work in terms of cricket-wise has been done up until now. It’s just a case of getting mentally prepared. Yeah, obviously result-wise it’s a case of winner takes all, but that doesn’t really come into your preparation or anything like that. You’re still going to prepare to win each game, which we have done. So in terms of that, things stay the same.

“I don’t think you can think about the outcome in terms of you’re putting pressure on yourself, obviously. Some lads may think about it more than others, and that may be an extra motivation factor for themselves. But for myself, it’s just preparing to win that game and analysing the opposition as we do. As long as we prepare how we have done for each individual game, then we’ll be fine.”

In fact, there are a number of scenarios in which Ireland progress to the quarter-finals.  Obviously, if they beat Pakistan, and that’s not unheard of, Ireland would continue in the competition.  In 2007, Ireland put Pakistan out of the World Cup…

This time a draw would see both teams through – again, a not unfamiliar result for Ireland at a Cricket World Cup.  [Unless there’s now a ‘golden’ over? – Ed] Similarly, if either match was abandoned because of bad weather both Pakistan and Ireland would progress.

Probably the most unlikely scenario in which both Ireland and Pakistan progress would be if UAE beat West Indies in the first match up tonight.  Even if Ireland win, and the West Indies don’t win by enough, Pakistan can still go through on Net Run Rate (NRR).  But, then, this is the Cricket World Cup, and anything can happen…  That match begins at 10pm tonight [GMT].  Coverage via the usual suspects.

When the match in Adelaide gets underway, the situation should be somewhat clearer.  But both Ireland and Pakistan will be looking for a win, regardless. It’s a huge game for Ireland.

Ireland’s final World Cup Pool B match against Pakistan is the biggest in their history, says batsman Ed Joyce.

The Irish, who have beaten West Indies, Zimbabwe and the UAE, will reach the quarter-finals with victory in Adelaide on Sunday.

“We came here with more expectation than previous World Cups,” Joyce, 36, told BBC Sport.

“The chance to break into the quarter-finals of a World Cup definitely makes it the biggest game we’ve ever had.”

Ireland have played in two previous World Cups, reaching the Super Eight stage on debut in 2007.

However, the International Cricket Council is planning to cut the 2019 tournament in England from 14 to 10 teams, which would make qualification for Ireland more difficult.

“We have a cause that we fight for,” said Sussex left-hander Joyce.

“We are trying to grow the game at home and show the ICC the folly of keeping the next World Cup to 10 teams, not allowing nations like us ourselves a fair chance to get in.”

The ICC preview predicts a battle between “Ireland’s batting against Pakistan’s pacers for a place in the knockouts“.

Cricinfo’s preview suggests that could be a daunting task for Ireland’s batsmen…

In the grand scheme of things, Ireland might take credit for going so far whether they win or lose. They might take credit for overcoming their poor form in the warm-up games – they lost to a grade side in Sydney and Scotland in Blacktown – and a modest seam-bowling attack acutely lacking in pace.

But such is their ambition, such is their determination, that anything less than a quarter-final place at this stage would be considered a disappointment.

They have a tough task. After a poor start to the tournament, Pakistan have won three games in succession and look far stronger in the field and with the bat, for the inclusion of Sarfraz Ahmed and Younis Khan. Their seam attack includes the trio of left-arm pacemen Wahab Riaz who has bowled the quickest delivery in the tournament, Rahat Ali, who is conceding his runs at an average of only 3.82 an over, and the towering Mohammad Irfan. It might be best described as daunting.

Batting first in Adelaide would seem to be a no-brainer, given the choice, but Ireland do like a chase…

And, as I’ve said, anything can happen. Coverage on the BBC – radio and text [after WI v UAE].  Or via cricinfo’s over-by-over commentary.

I’ll update in the morning.

Update  In the first match West Indies won the toss and put UAE in to bat, restricting them to 175 all out in 47.4 overs. In reply the West Indies made 176 for four in 30.3 overs. Match report here.  That left the West Indies with a Net Run Rate of -0.042.

And so to Ireland.  Ireland won the toss and decided to bat first.  Despite a century from captain Porterfield, Ireland were all out for 237 from 50 overs.  There was a glimmer of hope, but it always looked about 30-40 runs short.

Ireland’s bowlers never seriously troubled the Pakistan batsmen, the openers made 120 from 22 overs before the first wicket fell.

Final Pakistan 241 for 3 from 46.1 overs. Pakistan win by 7 wickets.

And so, with that result, Pakistan go through to the quarter-finals.  The West Indies join them with a superior Net Run Rate to Ireland.  Although on the same number of points after their six games – 6 points apiece – and having beaten the West Indies in the head-to-head,  Ireland’s Net Run Rate, -0.9, puts them out of the tournament.

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