Easy in the end

Saeed Ajmal (left) celebrates after having Netherlands’ Alex Cusack stumped by Kamran Akmal.-AP Saeed Ajmal (left) celebrates after having Netherlands’ Alex Cusack stumped by Kamran Akmal.

Ireland did not push Pakistan as hard as they had Sri Lanka and they never really looked like chasing down the target of 160, writes Andy Bull.

Pakistan became the second team to qualify for the semifinals, beating Ireland with some ease. Having started the day surrounded by the whiff of ugly rumours about ball tampering after their routing of New Zealand, they finished it in some style and with every reason to celebrate after recovering from the pool stage defeat by England to reach the knockout stages. Umar Gul, the bowler questioned by New Zealand, proved no less difficult to play even with the full scrutiny of the TV cameras on him.

Asked to comment on the allegations against Gul, Younis Khan responded with understandable irritation. "Today was very embarrassing really," he said. "All the time the umpires were checking the ball. There are a lot of cameras out there, 20 odd, so how can we cheat? Why do these things always come up in England? We already have a lot of controversies. Why is it always Pakistan? We should forget these controversies and concentrate on the cricket."

Younis explained the damage to the ball by saying: "The main thing is that with this type of cricket there are a lot of sixes and the ball is always going in the crowd and hitting concrete." Other than that, he explained, reverse swing comes from "good pace, a good action and a lot of practice."

Ireland did not push Pakistan as hard as they had Sri Lanka and they never really looked like chasing down the target of 160. William Porterfield crafted 40 tidy runs, sharing stands of 29 and 45 for the second and third wickets.

But even when he was at the crease the batting was underpowered, with Ireland mustering only four boundaries in their first 10 overs. The required rate ran away from them and, when Porterfield fell in the 14th over, the innings became rather a procession of wickets as the Irish succumbed to a hare-brained excess of haste. They lost seven wickets for 28 runs, four of them to the spin of Saeed Ajmal.

Pakistan's own Innings was not quite as wantonly destructive as Younis implied it might be when he said before the game that his side intended to "crush" the Irish. But Kamran Akmal made 57 from 51 balls and, to the delight of the raucous Pakistani fans, Shahid Afridi was promoted up to No. 3, the all-rounder denting the boundary hoardings with a rapid 24.

THE SCORES

Ireland v Pakistan. Result: Pakistan won by 39 runs.

Pakistan: K. Akmal b Johnston 57; S. Hasan c McCallan b Cusack 23; S. Afridi c Mooney b McCallan 24; Younis Khan b West 10; Misbah-ul-Haq c N. O’Brien b McCallan 20; A. Razzaq (not out) 15; S. Malik (not out) 4; Extras (lb-3, w-2, nb-1) 6. Total (for five wkts., in 20 overs) 159.

Fall of wickets: 1-38, 2-78, 3-102, 4-133, 5-141.

Ireland bowling: Rankin 4-0-11-0; Johnston 4-0-45-1; Cusack 4-0-41-1; West 4-0-33-1; McCallan 4-0-26-2.

Ireland: W. Porterfield c Younis Khan b Ajmal 40; N. O’Brien c & b Aamer 7; P. Stirling b Afridi 17; K. O’Brien st. Akmal b Ajmal 26; J. Mooney c Razzaq b Ajmal 2; D. Johnston b Gul 0; A. White b Gul 5; A. Cusack st. Akmal b Ajmal 2; W. McCallan (not out) 2; R. West (run out) 1; W. Rankin (not out) 5; Extras (b-1, lb-7, w-3, nb-2) 13. Total (for nine wkts., in 20 overs) 120.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-42, 3-87, 4-93, 5-99, 6-108, 7-110, 8-110, 9-111.

Pakistan bowling: Aamer 4-0-19-1; Razzaq 3-0-18-0; Afridi 4-0-26-1; Ajmal 4-0-19-4; Malik 1-0-11-0; Gul 4-0-19-2.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009