Ireland and Bangladesh strike stunning blows against superpowers
by AFP

Scorecard:Ireland v Pakistan, Bangladesh v India
Event:ICC World Cup 2006/07

DateLine: 18th March 2007


Ireland and Bangladesh turned the World Cup upside down on Saturday with stunning victories over Asian superpowers Pakistan and India.


Ireland's band of part-timers and foreign imports caused probably the biggest sensation in the history of the tournament by beating Pakistan by three wickets in Kingston to send the 1992 champions crashing out of the tournament.


India, considered one of the favourites for the title, were stunned by a five-wicket loss to a youthful Bangladesh but at least have the consolation of still being in the World Cup.


Debutants Ireland made it a St. Patrick's Day to remember at Sabina Park.


Chasing a revised target of 128 from 47 overs, Ireland held their nerve to hit the jackpot with 32 balls to spare, when captain Trent Johnson smashed Azhar Mahmood over long-on for six.


The Irish victory handed Pakistan their second straight defeat in the competition, following their 54-run loss to hosts West Indies.


The win also put Ireland on the verge of qualifying for the second round Super Eights.


Niall O'Brien hit a one-day international career best 72 from 107 balls after his teammates had earlier bowled and fielded with purpose to dismiss the Pakistanis for a modest 132 in 45.4 overs.


Boyd Rankin was the most successful Irish bowler with three wickets for 32 runs from nine overs while only four Pakistani batsmen got into double-figures - Kamran Akmal scored 27, Imran Nazir got 24, Mohammad Yousuf made 15, and Sami gathered 12.


"We were outstanding in the field and the way we batted to chase down the runs was fantastic," said Johnston.


"We were lucky to win the toss but we bowled well and put the ball in all the right areas. We were always asking questions of Pakistan. All the boys came of age today."


Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, playing in his fifth and final World Cup, was devastated by the defeat which will almost certainly lead to his axing if he doesn't retire beforehand.


"It was a very disappointing performance because it means we are out of the World Cup," said Inzamam who played in the 1992 World Cup winning team.


"It wasn't easy to bat first but all credit to Ireland. They bowled tight lines and we played too many poor shots. It's my last World Cup, I wanted the team to do well but, sometimes, these things happen."


At Port of Spain, Indian captain Rahul Dravid admitted his team face a battle to qualify for the next round after losing by five wickets to Bangladesh.


"Our backs are up against the wall," said Dravid who chose to bat at the Queen's Park Oval and saw his much-vaunted batting line-up skittled out for just 191.


"It was a disappointing day. We didn't get enough runs on the board. I thought 240 would have been a good score but the wicket surprised us.


"We know we've got to win two games now. We've got our backs to the wall and have got to fight pretty hard."


India will have to beat Sri Lanka as well as minnows Bermuda to have any hope of making it through to the second round Super Eights.


It was only Bangladesh's second win in 15 matches against India, the 1983 World Cup winners and beaten finalists in 2003.


Bangladesh teenagers Tamim Iqbal, Saqibul Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim all made half-centuries to lead their country to their famous win.


Chasing just 192, Bangladesh wrapped up the Group B match with nine balls to spare.


Opener Iqbal, aged just 17, hit 51 off 53 balls with 19-year-old Saqibul making 53 off 86 balls. Nineteen-year-old Mushfiqur Rahim made an unbeaten 56 off 107 balls to see his side home.


"I just tried to play my natural game," said Iqbal who collected seven fours and two sixes.


Man-of-the-match was seamer Mashrafe Mortaza who collected 4-38 to rock India.


Meanwhile, a dramatic day at the World Cup was completed when it was announced that several of England's players had been fined for a "breach of team discipline".


The players - understood to be James Anderson, Ian Bell, Jon Lewis and Liam Plunkett - were fined for a late night drinking session at the Rumours Nightclub near England's team hotel in St Lucia.


They had been out late ahead of their second Group clash against Canada on Sunday - a match England must win if they are to qualify for the Super Eights.

(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)


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