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Ireland thumped by Pakistan





Ireland's hopes of convincing the International Cricket Council they are deserving of a World Cup place were undermined by a thumping seven-wicket defeat to Pakistan in a rain-affected first one-day international in Belfast.

Ireland were bowled out for just 96, with young left-armer Junaid Khan claiming career-best figures of four for 12, before the tourists eased past the total with 51 balls to spare.

The defeat was as one-sided as it was untimely for the Irish just a month before an ICC chief executive committee is due to discuss the possibility of overturning a decision to omit the associate countries from the next World Cup in 2015.

Nuggety opener Paul Stirling thrashed 39 from 22 balls, but when he became Junaid's first victim the wickets fell at regular intervals thereafter.

Junaid next skittled Alex Cusack's stumps before he had scored, while Umar Gul found skipper William Porterfield's edge.

Ireland's star man at the World Cup Kevin O'Brien showed signs he was intent on following Stirling's lead with a couple of muscled strikes, but his stumps were also sent cartwheeling by Junaid before he found full flow.

And when Khan then located Andrew White's edge next ball Ireland found themselves deep in trouble at 66 for six before the rain arrived again.

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That offered the hosts a 20-minute reprieve, but with their top order having already succumbed in the hour beforehand, the wickets continued to fall and Saeed Ajmal cleaned up the tail to finish with three for seven as Ireland last only 20 of the rain-reduced 36 overs.

Ireland got a breakthrough, albeit with just 22 required, when Taufeeq Umar offered a low chance to Stirling at slip off Cusack to depart for a laboured 23 from 62 balls.

Mohammad Hafeez brought up his half-century soon after, with his seventh four, but fell next ball bowled by Cusack who then also picked up Asad Shafiq before skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and veteran Younus Khan guided the tourists home with plenty of time to spare.

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