Pakistan game ‘the biggest in Irish history’ says Ed Joyce

Phil Simmons’s side look to repeat victory over Pakistan from 2007 in last pool game

At 7’ 1” Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan will present the Ireland batsman with a serious test in the Pool B encounter between the sides at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday. Photograph:   Fiona Goodall/AFP/Getty Images

At 7’ 1” Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan will present the Ireland batsman with a serious test in the Pool B encounter between the sides at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday. Photograph: Fiona Goodall/AFP/Getty Images

 

They call Adelaide the ‘City of Churches’ but Ireland go into tomorrow’s final Pool B game against Pakistan with more than a wing and a prayer of making it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Phil Simmons’s side need a victory against the side that won the tournament the last time it was hosted in Australia and New Zealand back in 1992 to achieve that goal, although there are other routes to the last eight, albeit ones that might require a novena or two.

The likelihood of the United Arab Emirates turning over the West Indies in Napier is remote, while the possibility of a rained-off game, where both sides would only get one point, has subsided as Tropical Cyclone Pam is not expected to hit the north island until Monday.

A mixed forecast for Adelaide has also been improving all week, with game-day set to see perfect conditions at the rebuilt Adelaide Oval.

In many respects, this Ireland squad wouldn’t want it any other way as they look to get the better of Pakistan for a second time after the famous three-wicket win at Sabina Park back in 2007.

Ed Joyce believes tomorrow’s game is the biggest in Irish cricket history given that the International Cricket Council have decided to reduce the participating teams in the 2019 event from 14 to 10.

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

“We have a cause that we fight for. 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.

“It’s really disappointing that we could be on the verge of Ireland’s last World Cup game for a long time, either against Pakistan or in the knock-outs. That’s not being defeatist, it’s just being realistic.”

Just like our rugby team under Joe Schmidt, Simmons’s side has been very much one-game-at-a-time at this World Cup and was able to compartmentalise the heavy defeat to South Africa ahead of the key victory over Zimbabwe.

The same outlook will be required tomorrow after the heavy defeat to India in Hamilton and they come up against a Pakistan side that have grown into the tournament after two opening defeats as they look to move into the knock-out stages.

Much of Pakistan’s success has come from their trio of left-arm fast bowlers led by Wahab Riaz alongside Rahat Ali and the 7’ 1” Mohammad Irfan.

The threat posed by Riaz has called for a little invention during Ireland net sessions this week, with throw downs being sent off a table to try and mimic the extreme height the bowler releases the ball from.

A bigger danger may come in the late swing the trio of left-handers have achieved even on good pitches, with their dismantling of South Africa particularly impressive as each of the bowlers took three wickets to bowl out the Proteas for 202.

Crashed out

Ireland have averaged close to 280 with the bat in their five games so far, with two scores of over 300 to date. The flipside is their struggles with the ball, with opposition averaging a shade over 315, including that 411 against South Africa that did so much damage to the net run rate.

Ireland’s chances of winning against Pakistan and making the quarter-finals will come down to how the seamers get on from the 25th over onwards and how the top order deal with the new ball, especially if if they are hooping.

Ireland spinner George Dockrell believes the mood is just right in the Ireland camp to yet again turn over Pakistan and knock them out of a major tournament.

“To get ourselves to this position with three wins was a great effort and I think we’re set in a really nice place to go into it and to get that win and to bring us into the next round.”

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