Saturday, July 13, 2024

Valiant comeback falls just short

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Florida, USA – Ireland Men came agonisingly close to pulling off another stunning victory over Pakistan in their final 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match in Florida on Sunday, falling to just a three-wicket defeat with seven balls to spare.

Both sides’ hopes of reaching the Super 8 stage of the competition were already ended before they took the field, Ireland unable to advance following defeats to India and Canada, as well as a washout against co-hosts USA.

A third loss of the tournament was eventually confirmed after Ireland struggled to 106-9 first up, but the Irish bowlers gave Pakistan a scare as Babar Azam’s team only got over the line in the penultimate over of the match.

After electing to bat at the toss, Paul Stirling would have hoped to have made a quick start alongside fellow opener Andy Balbirnie, but Ireland’s batters were left stunned by Pakistan’s seamers.

Shaheen Shah Afridi was the first to strike, bowling Balbirnie with just the third delivery of the match. He then accounted for both Lorcan Tucker and Harry Tector either side of Stirling being caught behind off Mohammad Amir.

Amir then removed George Dockrell with a caught and bowled, as Ireland closed out the powerplay on 32-5.

Afridi had 3-16 and Amir 2-11 at that stage, with Haris Rauf soon getting in on the act himself by dismissing Curtis Campher with the score 32-6 and Ireland staring down the barrel of their lowest score in T20I cricket.

A partnership of 44 for the seventh wicket between Gareth Delany (31) and Mark Adair (15) saved Ireland from that fate before both fell to the bowling of Imad Wasim.

Josh Little’s 22 note out and Ben White’s stubborn contribution ensured Ireland first reached three figures and then saw out their 20 overs but a target of 107 looked unlikely to test Pakistan’s batters.

Mark Adair and Barry McCarthy struck with the new ball, though, to give Ireland hope. Curtis Campher then picked up the scalp of Fakhar Zaman and McCarthy collected two further wickets, reducing Pakistan to 57-5 at the halfway stage as Ireland’s bowlers kept their side in the contest.

Campher struck again at 62-6 and when Ben White dismissed Abbas Afridi with the score 95-7 in the 18th over, Ireland were dreaming of a famous victory.

Azam, though, steered his team over the line with an unbeaten 32, supported by Shah Afridi’s 13*.

McCarthy (3-15) and Campher (2-24) were the pick of the Irish bowlers but they all chipped in with important contributions as Ireland bowed out of the tournament with a spirited performance.

MATCH SUMMARY

Ireland v Pakistan, 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Lauderhill, Florida, USA — 16 June 2024

Ireland 106-9 (20 overs; G Delany 31, J Little 22*; I Wasim 3-8, SS Afridi 3-22, M Amir 2-11) 
Pakistan 111-7 (18.5 overs; B Azam 32*; B McCarthy 3-15, C Campher 2-24) 

Pakistan won by three-wickets

See full scorecard

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