Sarfaraz, seamers drive Pak into last 8
Sarfraz Ahmed struck his maiden ODI hundred as Pakistan advanced to the World Cup quarterfinal, knocking Ireland out with a seven-wicket triumph over the European giant-slayers in their final Pool B match on Sunday.
Set a target of 238, Pakistan never looked in trouble and romped home with 3.5 overs to spare, putting up a rare clinical show in what has otherwise been a topsy-turvy campaign for them in the marquee event. Sarfraz became the first Pakistan batsman after Imran Nazir (2007) to notch up a World Cup hundred as he slammed 101-run knock to cement his place after being kept out in the initial matches of the tournament.
Pakistan will now face Australia in the last-eight stage on March 20 here after finishing third in their group with four wins out of six matches. It was a thoroughly polished performance by a more-often-than-not mercurial team with Sarfaraz proving his worth yet again. The 27-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman shone bright with 124-ball knock, which was studded with six fours. Opener Ahmed Shehzad was another notable contributor to the team’s cause with a 71-ball 63, which included seven hits to the fence. Man-of-the-match Sarfaraz and Shehzad put together 120 runs for the opening wicket, laying the solid foundation for a smooth chase. For the bitterly disappointed Irish, who impressed one and all with lion-hearted performances all through, Alex Cusack was the most successful bowler with figures of 1/43 from his 10 overs. Earlier, Irish captain William Porterfield made a composed century before Pakistan seamers staged a fightback to bowl out Ireland for 237 in the must-win game.
The 30-year-old opening batsman Porterfield made 107, but the Pakistanis came back to snare five wickets conceding only 49 runs in the last 10 overs. Wahab Riaz was the most successful bowler for Pakistan, returning figures of 3/54, while there were two wickets apiece for Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali.
WTS Porterfield* c Shahid Afridi b Sohail Khan 107, PR Stirling lbw b Ehsan Adil 3, EC Joyce c Umar Akmal b Wahab Riaz 11, NJ O’Brien c Umar Akmal b Rahat Ali 12, A Balbirnie c Shahid Afridi b Haris Sohail 18, GC Wilson† c Wahab Riaz b Sohail Khan 29, KJ O’Brien c Sohaib Maqsood b Wahab Riaz 8, SR Thompson c Akmal b Rahat Ali 12, JF Mooney c Umar Akmal b Wahab Riaz 13, GH Dockrell run out (†Sarfraz/Wahab) 11, AR Cusack not out 1; Extras (lb 2, w 10) 12 Total (all out; 50 overs) 237 FoW 1-11, 2-56, 3-86, 4-134, 5-182, 6-189, 7-204, 8-216, 9-230, 10-237 Bowling Sohail Khan 10-0-44-2, Ehsan Adil 7-0-31-1, Rahat Ali 10-0-48-2, Wahab Riaz 10-0-54-3, Shahid Afridi 10-0-38-0, Haris Sohail 3-0-20-1
A Shehzad c Joyce b Thompson 63, Sarfraz Ahmed† not out 101, Haris Sohail run out 3, Misbah* hit wicket b Cusack 39, Umar Akmal not out 20; Extras (b 1, lb 1, w 13) 15 Total (3 wkts; 46.1 overs) 241 FoW 1-120, 2-126, 3-208 Bowling AR Cusack 10-1-43-1 JF Mooney 9-1-40-0, SR Thompson 10-0-59-1, GH Dockrell 6-0-43-0, KJ O’Brien 10-0-49-0, PR Stirling 1.1-0-5-0