Ireland vs Pakistan, ICC World Cup, Sabina Park Kingston, March 17, 2007
Ireland won by 3 wickets
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations just got bigger for Ireland cricket fans after their team staged a sensational upset by defeating Pakistan in the league stage. The verdict meant, Ireland sent Pakistan packing from the World Cup.
There was very little pre-match buzz about the encounter in Sabina Park, Jamaica, with Ireland considered pushovers against fancied Pakistan.
Having opted to field, the Irish player looked pumped up from the start, though it looked mission impossible for them going into the game.
The Irish bowlers used the pace and the bounce offered by the pitch to reduce Pakistan to 15 for two – Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan being the victims. Just when a small partnership seemed to be building for the third wicket, the Irish bowlers struck again, having Mohammad Yousuf caught at backward of point to start a chicken-dance celebration.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as Pakistan lost half of their side for 66. The last five wickets doubled that score as the Irish bowlers put up a brilliant team effort. Despite all the praise, it must be said that Pakistan played a huge contributory role with some inept batting.
Ireland still had half the job to author a famous win. But, their start was similar to that of Pakistan as they were struggling at 15 for 2. A third wicket partnership of 47 runs for the third wicket infused hope in the Irish ranks.
Though wickets kept falling to keep Pakistan in the hunt, Niall O’ Brien was rock steady at one end. Just when it looked like he would guide them through, O’Brien charged down the wicket once too often to be stumped.
The scoreboard showed that they still had another 25 runs to win with five wickets in hand. Andrew White’s boundary raised Irish hopes, but White and Kyle McCallan fell in consecutive balls in the 34th over as Ireland board 113 for 7 – 20 runs still needed for victory.
Trent Johnson and Kevin O’ Brien held their nerves to defy the Pakistan attack to ensure that Pakistan did not script a great escape.
O’Brien’s match-winning 72 (6 fours, 1 six) won him the Man of the Match award.
(Uttaresh Venkateshwaran did his BMM and is now pursuing higher studies in the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai)