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Kamran guides Pakistan to semi-finals

June 15, 2009 23:14 IST
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Pakistan rode on a sparkling half-century from opener Kamran Akmal to beat Ireland by 39 runs and romp into the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 at the Oval on Monday.

In winning their must-win last Super Eights match, Pakistan also avenged the humiliating loss to Ireland in the 2007 ODI World Cup in the Caribbeans, and joined South Africa in the last four stage of the tournament.

Akmal scored 57 off 51 balls even as his partners frequently changed at the other end to propel Pakistan to 159 for five in their stipulated 20 overs after skipper Younis Khan elected to bat.

Ireland, in reply, never really got going despite a brave 36-ball 40 from their captain Williams Portersfield as the fiery pace of Pakistan bowlers Saeed Ajmal (4-19) and Umer Gul (2-19) proved too hot to handle.

They finished with 120 for nine in their allotted overs.

Following their impressive show, Gul and Ajmal emerged the leading bowlers in the tournament with 12 and 11 wickets respectively.

Portersfield, who started the run-chase, with wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O'brien (7), appeared helpless in the absence of a stable partner. He, however, stitched a 45-run partnership with Kevin O'Brien (26) in six overs before leaving the field in the 13th.

Promising 18-year-old Paul Stirling, at number three, tried his best to steady the innings, but his stay was cut short by Shahid Afridi after hitting two fours in a 16-ball 17.

Ireland lost as many as five wickets in the last five overs while scoring only 31 runs as none of the batsmen other than Portersfield, Kevin O'Brien and Stirling could reach double figures.

Earlier, Pakistan got off to a steady start as openers Akmal and Shahzaib Hasan (23) added 38 runs in 5.4 overs.

But Ireland pacer Alex Cusak, who returned 4 for 18 in the last match against Sri Lanka, soon dismissed Shahzaib, having him caught by Kyle McCallan (2-26) at mid-off.

Boyd Rankin did his best to keep the Pakistan batsmen in check by conceding only seven runs in his spell of three overs.

Next batsman in Shahid Afridi made a useful contribution of 24 runs before he fell to a McCallan delivery. The the all-rounder sent the ball to long-on in a bid to hit a boundary but it flew a bit lower and was easily grabbed by John Mooney.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran, whose 50 came off 46 balls, hit a superb boundary to take Pakistan past the 100-run mark in the 13th over.

But Ireland struck within the space of two balls to send captain Younis Khan to back to the pavilion. Younis faltered while negotiating a fine delivery from John West and was clean bowled, his middle stump displaced.

On a windy evening and batting-friendly track, Ireland's bowlers did an impressive job of restricting Pakistan on a batsmen-friendly track.

Akmal was out in the 17th over, bowled by Trent Johnston, after hitting four boundaries and a huge six.

Dashing batman Misbah-ul Haq kept the scoreboard ticking with a 14-ball 20, aided by a four and a six, before he was caught behind by Niall O-Brien off McCallan delivery.

Ex-ICL player Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Malik added 18 runs for the sixth wicket.

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