Ireland v Pakistan, World Cup 2015, Group B, Adelaide March 15, 2015

Sarfraz hundred sends Pakistan into quarters

Pakistan 241 for 3 (Sarfraz 101*, Shehzad 63) beat Ireland 237 (Porterfield 107, Wahab 3-54) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan lost their opening two matches of the World Cup; Ireland won their opening two matches. But it was the former who progressed to the quarter-finals with a reasonably polished seven-wicket victory in Adelaide to mean that the knockouts will be populated solely by Full Members.

An opening stand of 120 ensured against any concerns for Pakistan and Sarfraz Ahmed, just two matches into his comeback, struck his maiden ODI hundred - their first century of the tournament - although it was reached in slightly farcical scenes as Umar Akmal blocked ball after ball when it appeared Sarfraz would finish short. Ireland's spirit never dimmed, but there were some resigned looks long before Umar finally clubbed the winning boundary.

On the biggest day of Ireland's cricket history their captain William Porterfield had stood tall with his seventh ODI hundred, but the next best score was Gary Wilson's 29 and ultimately the skill of the Pakistan quick bowlers, even without the injured Mohammad Irfan, prevailed especially at the death.

The pacemen have been central to Pakistan's recovery after the heavy opening defeats to India and West Indies and this time the last ten overs of the innings brought 49 for 5 with just three fours and a six against outstanding death bowling from Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz. However, Ireland would also ponder the number of well-struck shots that hit fielders - more than half the deliveries in the innings were dots - and they struggled to rotate the strike.

In contrast to Pakistan, Ireland's bowling is comfortably their weakest department. A chase of 238 was enough that a couple of early wickets would have created some jitters but, like against India, they could not break the opening stand before significant damage had been done. The first seven overs brought 28 runs against Alex Cusack and John Mooney, then Sarfraz and Ahmed Shehzad began to cut loose.

George Dockrell's introduction, for the tenth over, marked a change in tempo as Shehzad and Sarfraz collected two boundaries apiece. It was smart play because on a pitch where the ball had occasionally stopped, or gripped, Dockrell should have been a key weapon for Ireland but he was not given the chance to settle.

Ireland's first chance to break through was spurned when Wilson, standing up the stumps to Kevin O'Brien, dropped Sarfraz on 37. By the time Shehzad pulled straight to mid-on against Stuart Thompson, Pakistan were half way to the target and Haris Sohail's run out two overs later was only a momentary blip.

Sarfraz had hit three boundaries by the end of the tenth over and did not add to that until the 37th when he took back-to-back fours off Cusack. It was a sign of how he calmly worked the field and judged that there was no need for anything reckless. Misbah-ul-Haq was more aggressive and the pair added 82 before Misbah trod on his stumps, but by then it had long been obvious there would not be scenes to match Jamaica 2007, almost eight years ago to the day.

Porterfield opened that day at Sabina Park and batted 100 minutes for 13. This time his hundred was the first by an Associate captain at a World Cup. It was an innings of immense character and composure, but had similarities with his previous ODI century - against a Full Member, England, and ending in defeat.

He scored at a consistent pace throughout, the fifty coming off 59 balls and his hundred from 124. He could have been caught on 84 had Rahat moved faster at third man to intercept an upper cut or run out on 94 with a better throw from Sarfraz, but the three-figure moment came when his punchy drive burst through Wahab's left hand in the follow through.

The early passage of Ireland's innings was a case of Porterfield dominating the scoring but not finding a long-term ally. Paul Stirling has been unable to build on the aggressive 92 he made in the opening match against West Indies and this time he was caught on the crease playing across a full delivery from Ehsan Adil in his second over of the tournament.

Porterfield's pulling was a stand-out feature, but Ed Joyce did not find the same success when he was caught out by the extra pace of Wahab and top edged to point. Then, with another stand starting to build, and the run rate very acceptable, Niall O'Brien drove to cover when a ball from Rahat stopped in the surface.

Although Pakistan's catching was generally safe, their ground-fielding left plenty to be desired. But a misfield in the deep played a role in the fourth wicket when Porterfield made the most of a fumble in the deep to take three which gave the strike to Balbirnie, who top edged a sweep off Sohail's fourth delivery to short fine-leg.

Porterfield went into the 90s with a sweet drive wide of mid-off but his demise, pulling low to Shahid Afridi at mid-on the over after reaching his hundred, began Ireland's slide as Pakistan's expertise in the late overs shone through. Ireland's last chance of a strong finish rested with Kevin O'Brien but the accuracy of Sohail and Wahab kept him quiet. He was dropped on 7 by Ehsan at deep square-leg but fell next delivery when he spliced a pull to midwicket.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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