Pakistan, loosing finalists of last year’s T20 WC competition came closer to booking a Semi Finals spot with a convincing 39 runs victory over Ireland. With the Kiwis having injury worries ahead of their crucial encounter against SriLanka, the only way for Pakistan to be knocked out of the competition is through a comprehensive New Zealand victory over Sri Lanka. This looks highly unlikely as the Lankans have been the in form team in the competition thus far.
The Pakistanis decided to bat after winning the toss and looked comfortable while piling up 159 runs by just loosing five wickets against the Irish bowlers. Kamran Akmal took the experienced Irish bowler Trent Johnson, to the cleaners by smashing 20 runs of his second over of the match. The only Irish bowler to have troubled the Pakistani batsman was Boyd Rankin. His steepling bounce caused a lot of anxiety for the Pakistani openers and kept them under leash. The Pakistani batsman looked in control thereafter with notable contributions from Kamran Akmal (57 runs), Shahzaib Hasan (23 runs), Sahid Afridi (quick fire 24 runs), and Misbah-ul-Haq (20 runs) to take the score past 150 and set a challenging total for the Irishmen.
The target 0f 160 seemed to be a long distance away for Ireland with a lethal Pakistani bowling attack going full throttle against them. Saeed Ajmal spun a web around the Irish batsman with his 4-wicket haul thereby spinning Ireland out of the match. Umer Gul joined the party with a 2-wicket haul to leave Ireland 39 runs short of the target. The Ireland batsman never looked in control during the run chase as wickets tumbled on a regular interval throughout the match.
Pakistan thus ended the Super 8 stage of the competition with two consecutive victories to come close to a Semi Final spot from group F. A win for Sri Lanka against New Zealand would ensure that both the Sub continental teams reach the Semi finals from this group. Things could change with a win for New Zealand, which would force the Semi Finalists selection based on run rate, thereby leaving the Semi Final door open for all the three teams in this group.
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