Frustration for Ireland as Pakistan elbow World Cup hopes aside

Sarfraz Ahmed’s unbeaten 101 pushed Ireland to an early exit

Ireland captain William Porterfield celebrates his century with team-mate Gary Wilson during the World Cup Pool B match against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Ireland captain William Porterfield celebrates his century with team-mate Gary Wilson during the World Cup Pool B match against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

 

Ireland’s World Cup adventure ended in a slightly bizarre fashion at the Adelaide Oval yesterday evening with Pakistan’s normally free-hitting Umar Akmal blocking out deliveries in a bid to get opening batsman Sarfraz Ahmed enough strike to score a first One-Day International century.

There was frustration from some of the Ireland players that their opponents were in a position to do so, but a chase of 238 on a good pitch was always well within reach after an opening stand of 120 between Sarfraz, who went on to finish on 101 not out, and Ahmed Shezad (63) as they claimed a seven-wicket win.

Bowling attack

Ireland’s bowling attack may have lacked the necessary firepower required to bowl out sides on the good wickets of Australia and New Zealand, but the fact that Phil Simmons’s squad lost out on a quarter-final spot on net run rate to a West Indies team that they beat in their opening game only added to the sense of what might have been.

 

As well as an impression on the pitch, the Irish party have made all the right noises in pointing out their frustration on the future restriction of the World Cup to just 10 teams and also their lack of quality ODI fixtures against the Test-playing nations.

Outside of skipper William Porterfield, who hit a magnificent seventh ODI century, Ireland struggled against the orthodox and reverse swing imparted by the Pakistan pace attack.

Porterfield pointed out that quality bowling of that nature is only really found at international level and Ireland’s lack of exposure between World Cups leaves us at a disadvantage.

Former England skipper Nasser Hussain says the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) should be the first to offer Ireland more opportunities, and not just one-off fixtures such as the ODI in Malahide on May 8th, a game shoe-horned in between a Test series away to West Indies and one at home to New Zealand.

“The ECB need to have a good, long, hard look at themselves, to be honest. England go and play in Ireland but why don’t we invite them? They beat us in the last World Cup, quite convincingly,” said the Sky Sports broadcaster.

“Bring them to Lord’s. Give them their day out at Lord’s, and The Oval, some of these iconic grounds because they’ve deserved that right as well.

“They need to be playing more and more and more. Instead of playing five and seven matches where everyone loses interest, imagine the atmosphere at some of our Test match or one-day venues if it was an England v Ireland game.”

In the end Ireland’s net run rate never recovered from the massive 201-run defeat to South Africa, with West Indies’ quick six-wicket victory over the UAE in Napier earlier yesterday ensuring that only a tie at the Adelaide Oval would see them miss out on the last eight.

Despite disappointment at the result, Porterfield said: “We’ve come in, we’ve beaten two Test nations, we’ve played some very good cricket. There are a lot of things we can take from this competition moving forward.

High hopes

“For now we are disappointed. We had very high hopes for it today, we came in with a lot of confidence with how we were playing and that’s testament to where we’ve come and where we’re at as a team.

 

“We’ve got that confidence and belief to come out and beat anyone – it’s a great place to be. It’s a disappointed changing room now but when we do sit and reflect on it, I think we’ll be very happy with what we’ve achieved.”

In relation to the match itself, the Warwickshire left-hander pointed to Ireland losing their last six wickets for 55 runs following his departure for 107 in the 39th over.

“We were 40 or 50 short of what would have been a very competitive total and that makes it harder during the chase as well even if they did get off to a bit of a start.

“But once they did we were always trying to claw it back but you’ve got to give credit to how they played, they didn’t really let us back into the game.”

Being let continue play on the world stage was addressed again in Porterfield’s post- match press conference, with the Derry man attacking when the proposed 10-team World Cup in 2019 was brought up.

“Then why not have 10 teams just play cricket and every other country in the world not bother? It’s as simple as that for me,” said Porterfield.

“We’ve shown what we can do when we get to these competitions with the minimal fixtures that we’ve had. I think when we do get more fixtures then we’re only going to keep improving, and it’s going to be the same with every other country. I think you’ve got to keep growing the game.”

Porterfield signed off on a more light-hearted note by thanking charismatic team manager Roy Torrens, who steps down after 10 years in charge of the international side. “He’s been around Irish cricket for over 50 years, he’s played for us, and he’s been in pretty much every role throughout the set-up.

“He’s our manager and we’re going to have to have a few beers with him tonight and see him off in style because he’s been a great servant to Irish cricket and he’s hanging up his boots once and for all.”

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