x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Ireland not to be taken lightly by Pakistan

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis is not taking Ireland for granted, especially with the Irish believing they need a good showing to state their case for cricket World Cup inclusion.

Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, said his side will go all out to secure a 2-0 sweep of Ireland today in their one-day international series (ODI) in Belfast.

Pakistan claimed a seven-wicket win in the opener at Stormont after bowling Ireland out for just 96. It was an unexpectedly easy win in a game that had loomed as a potential banana skin for Pakistan.

Waqar had been wary of an ever-improving Irish side in their home conditions, especially after Pakistan had just arrived from their testing tour of the Caribbean.

But Junaid Khan led a rout with career-best figures of four for 12 in his sixth ODI. It was an impressive display from the 21-year-old bowler, who had taken only three one-day wickets before yesterday, and on the back of it Waqar could be excused for turning to his young players for the final game of a long tour.

Pakistan have lived out of hotels since the World Cup in March, but Waqar has pledged to select a near full-strength team as he aims to finish on a high. "We are not going to throw all the youngsters in and say, 'Because it is Ireland we can take it easy'," he said.

Ireland's veteran all-rounder Trent Johnston acknowledged his team's hopes of playing in the next World Cup could suffer in perception if they lose again today.

"It is important we put in a performance because Ireland and the next World Cup are in the limelight right now," he said.

"It is a part of the talk around cricket right now. It is on the tips of people's tongues that the Associates and Ireland should be allowed a qualification process.

"Because of that we really need to keep the fire burning and produce a performance against Pakistan.

"We know it is not the be all and end all, because we have been consistent in our performances for a while now and think we deserve a chance."

Ireland have lacked any of the defiance that earned them praise, and a memorable upset of England, at this year's World Cup.

They had high hopes of claiming an upset in the series to boost their chances of convincing the International Cricket Council (ICC) to reverse a decision to omit the Associate countries from the next World Cup in 2015.

The ICC's chief executives' committee is due to discuss the possibility of introducing a qualification system for the World Cup at a meeting next month.

Today's game will therefore be Ireland's last chance to prove their credentials.