We bring this back to the 17th of March 2007.
A national holiday back in Ireland and after Ireland's last ball draw with Zimbabwe in their first game, people might have started to question these cricketing men in green but this was different, now Ireland faced one of the tournaments favourite team to win not only the group but the entire World Cup itself, the team was Pakistan, and many Irish players commented how they were jokingly taunted that they shouldn't be here and that they should be home celebrating their national holiday but as many Irish sporting fans know, we enjoy the underdog tag, and this day was arguably the biggest underdog tag that an Irish sports team could have.
So it started with Irish Captain Trent Johnston winning the toss and sending Pakistan in to bat first on a green wicket, and all the Irish were shocked at the green of the pitch, could this be a sign of things to come?,.
So the first two batsmen were Imran Nazir and Mohammad Hafeez and the first over was a mixed affair with Langford-Smith giving a no ball away and then the unthinkable happened
a fast away swinging delivery that takes the edge of Hafeez bat and Niall O'Brien takes the easy catch and at the end of the first over Pakistan are 7/1 and Ireland are rolling along, and that wicket had made the game a tight affair untill Smith came onto bowl again and bowled to Nazir and almost gave Smith a caught and bowled chance but it wasn't to be and it was dropped and Pakistan fans let out a sigh of relief but their relief wasn't to be for long.
Rankin to bowl his second over and he bowled to Younis Khan a back of length delivery which caught Younis by surprise who could only send a thick edge to first slip and Botha wasn't going to drop this and Pakistan were leaking water at 15/2 but in comes the solid and reliable Mohammad Yousuf and he quickly has Rankin gone for four through extra cover, and it remained a tight affair with Pakistan hoping to rebuild their innings, well until the 13th over when the Irish Captain came onto bowl and he got the big wicket of Yousuf, Yousuf could only cut it to the future Irish captain in William Porterfield at backward point and from leaking water, Pakistan were not letting the water into the ship a lot quicker and at the end of the 13th over they were at 58/3 and a lot of work to do, could there be a shock in the World Cup of monumental proportions?.
If Yousuf was a big wicket, what was to happen next would utterly shock any Pakistan fan, Ireland stuck with Botha for his second over and it would be a wise decision Botha's first ball to Inzamam-ul-Haq is a massive one and he goes to fend the delivery from Botha but only sending to Morgan at slip and Pakistan were in real trouble now at 58/4, they needed a partnership and they needed to get the run rate going, what was going to happen?, it was the job of Nazir and Shoaib Malik to do whatever job was needed.
Despite their best efforts the partnership didn't last five overs and Botha again with a good line and length delivery has Nazir just prodding the bat out to meet the ball and the edge is taken by Morgan at slip again and the defence of Nazir is finally breached and now Pakistan were letting more water in than they could throw back out and were at 66/5 and Botha's figure so far had been immense with 4 overs going for just 1 single run and 3 maidens and taking 2 wickets.
So at the crease was Malik and Kamran Akmal and much rested on their shoulders, the question is who would win the battle?, and as the game had gone so far this partnership had lasted only 15 balls and Kevin O'Brien got in on the act with his brother Niall O'Brien and they had Malik caught behind and to say the Irish team were delighted would have been an understatement and now Pakistan were at 72/6 and with Azhar Mahmood at the crease with young Akmal, the question people were able to ask now was, can Pakistan bat out the overs?, had somebody mentioned at the start of play today that very question, they might have received a very loud laugh but now it was a genuine question.
It remained a tight pressure filled game and Pakistan looked to be rebuilding a type of innings with a partnership which lasted nearly 10 overs before the very tall Boyd Rankin was brought back and his second over of his second spell he caused chaos to the Pakistan innings when he had Azhar Mahmood and this was a shot Pakistan did not need and Johnston makes a solid catch at midwicket and Pakistan are in deep trouble now at 103/7 and now Kamran Akmal is on strike and he goes for a pull shot of Rankin and Johnston takes the catch of the tournament, possibly one of the best catch in cricketing history, he has to run back from mid-on and takes the high catch diving over his shoulder and this has turned into a nightmare for Pakistan and now they sit unable to shift any of the water in their boat and are at 105/8 with still 19 overs to bat out.
And one of the best partnerships of their innings is made between Mohammad Sami and Iftikhar Anjum and it has lasted near to 13 overs before McCallan finally got a wicket for all his tight work and he had Sami sweeping to deep backward square leg and Jeremy Bray takes an easy catch, well it was made to look easy but it wasn't really, now with just under 7 overs left in their innings their last batsman came to the crease in Umar Gul and Pakistan were now at 130/9.
The last pair didn't last long and McCallan got his bowling rewarded again and he got the last wicket of Umar Gul and he went for a slash over deep midwicket and Mooney took the high catch and Pakistan didn't bat out 26 balls and they had only put on 132 on the board, had this total been set to chase by any of the top teams, people wouldn't question it at all but this was Ireland?, the team people had told to go home and celebrate their national holiday, a team that was made of a farmer, electrician, fabric salesman, truck driver and many more amateur players, this was no professional team but they fielded as good as any and bowled as good as any, the big question that remained for Ireland, could they create cricketing history and win this game and cause a huge upset in the World Cup, or could Pakistan defend this total and avoid a huge embarrassment,
We will find out later...