Adelaide, March 15:
Sarfraz Ahmed (101 not out) notched up his maiden One-Day International (ODI) century to help Pakistan reach the cricket World Cup quarterfinals as the Asian side defeated Ireland by seven wickets in their final Pool B match at the Adelaide Oval here on Sunday.
Coming into the must-win match for both teams to move to the quarters, Ireland skipper William Porterfield scored 107 but his teammates failed as the side was restricted to 237 all out in 50 overs.
In reply, Pakistan didn’t look in any sort of trouble as openers Sarfraz Khan and Ahmed Shehzad (63) provided a 120-run stand — their first century-plus partnership in the tournament.
Ireland wicketkeeper Gary Wilson spilled Sarfraz’s catch when the batsman was on 37 in the 16th over bowled by Kevin O’Brien and the team’s score was 90/0.
It proved detrimental for the Irish as the 27-year-old went on to score his first ODI ton. It was also the first instance when a Pakistani recorded his hundred in this edition of the quadrennial event.
Shehzad notched up his 12th ODI half-century. After right-hander Shehzad lost his wicket, Haris Sohail (3) was run out following a miscommunication between him and Sarfraz.
With his team at 126/2 in the 25th over, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq came up the order to join the young right-handed opener. The 40-year-old skipper played a firm knock of 39 stitching an 82-run partnership for the third wicket with Sarfraz.
Misbah played an Alex Cusack delivery on to his stumps to get bowled out with his team still 30 runs short of victory with 11.4 overs remaining.
Umar Akmal (20 not out) completed the formalities along with Sarfraz to seal Pakistan’s fourth consecutive win with 3.5 overs and seven wickets to spare.
Pakistan got eight points from six matches to finish third behind table-toppers India and second-placed South Africa.
With this victory, 1992 World Cup winners Pakistan have also avenged their 2007 World Cup humiliating loss to Ireland that resulted in their preliminary stage exit in the competition held in the Caribbean.
This win also gave skipper Misbah — who will quit ODI cricket after this tournament — the confidence that his team can regain the World Cup.
“Yeah, of course we can win the World Cup. We have the momentum. The bowling is doing really well… the batting is beginning to do its part. On the day, anything can happen. We have the bowling line-up that can surprise any team.”
The West Indies won earlier in the day against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to grab the fourth spot with six points — the same as Ireland. But the Caribbean side went through to final- eight stage on better run-rate.
Earlier, right-hander Porterfield hit 11 fours and a six during his seventh ODI century. But his teammates were not not able put up crucial contributions.
Opener Paul Sterling (3), Ed Joyce (11), Nial O’Brien (12), Andy Balbirnie (18) perished with the score at 134/4 in 29.4 overs.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Wilson (29) forged a 48-run partnership with Porterfield before the latter was dismissed by right-arm medium pacer Sohail Khan.
Star batsman Kevin disappointed with a score of eight. Lower-order batsmen Stuart Thompson (12), John Mooney (13), George Dockrell (11) and Alex Cusack (1 not out) ensured that they get something to bowl at.
For Pakistan, left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz took three wickets while Sohail and Rahat Ali picked two wickets each. Medium pacer Ehsan Adil and spinner Haris Sohail bagged a wicket each.
As compared to Safraz’s knock, Porterfield’s 131-ball innings was no less in terms of class and quality. Unlike Sarfraz, the latter didn’t get support from his teammates and his bowlers also failed to impress.
Brief scores: Ireland 237 in 50 overs (William Porterfield 107; Wahab Riaz 3/54, Sohail Khan 2/44, Rahat Ali 2/48) lose to Pakistan 241/3 in 46.1 overs (Sarfraz Ahmed 101 not out, Ahmed Shehzad 63; Alex Cusack 1/43, Stuart Thompson 1/59). (IANS)