Pakistan out to "crush" Ireland
Monday, June 15
Start time 1330 local (1230 GMT)
Revenge will be one theme for sure. But bigger than that will be Pakistan's opportunity to advance to the semi-finals; Sri Lanka's narrow win over Ireland now means that any kind of Pakistan win against the Irish almost certainly sends them through to the semis (barring some outlandish scenarios) on net run-rate.
If they do get there, it will be some achievement given that they have yet to hit their peak and that nobody is really sure where that peak may be. But their bowling was always a threat and once they got the England game out of the way, it has mostly lived up to its reputation. The return of Abdul Razzaq has livened things up and with Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal, they were lively in any case.
The batting is still a worry and even a 100-run target against New Zealand entailed losses. In particular, concerns centre on the form of Misbah-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik; powerhouses in the last World Cup, they have scored 144 runs between them here, just six more than Younis Khan and at vastly inferior strike rates. Incidentally, Pakistan's press has been rife with rumours of a growing rift between the pair and the captain; Abdul Qadir's claims about Malik does nothing to dispel the speculation.
The Irish, as ever, will do their best to exploit any such issue to their advantage. They may be playing only for pride but for an Associate nation in a big tournament that is often the main motivation. Few have been unimpressed by them and only inexperience cost them the chance of an upset over Sri Lanka. They will also need no reminding of the events of the 2007 50-over World Cup. Theoretically, if they can beat Pakistan in a 50-over game, then in a Twenty20 game, the chances increase.
(last five matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Umar Gul is peaking for Pakistan at just the right time and his world-best figures against New Zealand means he is now joint leading wicket-taker in the tournament. A little stutter early on has been overcome and that frighteningly accurate yorker is back.
Ireland's opening bowlers Boyd Rankin and Trent Johnston bowled fine spells against Sri Lanka and if conditions are murky overhead, Pakistan's batsmen will not much like their swing, seam and bounce.
Given the nature of their win over New Zealand, Pakistan are unlikely to make any changes to their XI.
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Shahzaib Hassan, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Younis Khan (capt), 6 Abdul Razzaq, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Fawad Alam, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Saeed Ajmal
Niall O'Brien aggravated his ankle injury against Sri Lanka but the way he is, he'd probably have had to lost a leg altogether to miss a match.
Ireland: (probable) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Gary Wilson, 3 Niall O'Brien (wk), 4 Andre Botha, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 John Mooney, 7 Alex Cusack, 8 Trent Johnston, 9 Kyle McCallan, 10 Regan West, 11 Boyd Rankin
Stats and trivia
- 4 - Number of Pakistan players taking part tomorrow who played in the defeat to Ireland in the 2007 World Cup
- 7 - Number of Irish players taking part tomorrow who played in the same match
"We can't wait to play Ireland. My advice to the boys about that game? Just crush them."
Younis Khan is crystal clear about what he wants.
"He didn't even ask for a runner. It was never in his head."
William Porterfield on Niall O'Brien after Ireland's wicketkeeper turned over his already-injured right ankle
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo