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Pak under pressure to deliver against Ireland

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Kingston (Jamaica):Pakistan will be under pressure to deliver a clinical performance against Ireland in Saturday's Group D match at Sabina Park, because if they lose they are almost certainly out of the World Cup.

After the opening-day loss to hosts West Indies and after Ireland's tie with Zimbabwe, Pakistan are desperate for the two points that come with victory.

Pakistan have been prone in the past to the odd controversial defeat, like the reverse to Bangladesh at Northampton in the 1999 World Cup but the team will know the seriousness of this match against the Irish.

Ireland proved in their first match against Zimbabwe, which was thrillingly tied, that they are not in the Caribbean for a Calypso party -- they are here to compete and Pakistan will need to be on their 'A' game.

West Indies found to their cost in a 2004 tour match that if you take Ireland lightly you can be embarrassed as they were when Ireland scored 295-4 to win by six wickets.

Pakistan will make changes to their side that lost by 54 runs to Brian Lara's team and the most likely is to the batting, with wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal mooted to open and Mohammad Hafeez dropping down the order.

It would not be surprising also if seamer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who was maybe punching above his weight as a number eight batsman on Tuesday, makes way for all-rounder Azhar Mahmood.

Coach Bob Woolmer said the team is searching for a combination of eight batsmen and six bowlers. Mahmood's inclusion in the absence of the banned Afridi is the most obvious tactic.

It will also be interesting to gauge just how much emotional and physical energy Thursday's tie extracted from the part-time Irish players.

They will not have been used to such an expense of concentration in front of a global audience of millions. The way they bounce back from such an energy-sapping game will be worth watching.

Squads

Pakistan: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Rao Iftikhar

Ireland: Trent Johnston (capt), Kyle McCallan, Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Kenneth Carroll, Peter Gillespie, Dave Langford-Smith, John Mooney, Paul Mooney, Eoin Morgan, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin and Andrew White.

Reuters

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