Pakistan romp to win over Ireland in one-day match

First one-day international, Stormont, Belfast:
Pakistan 97-3 (27.3 overs) beat Ireland 96 (20 overs) by seven wickets (D/L method)
Match scorecard

Pakistan romped to an seven-wicket victory over Ireland in the first of this Bank Holiday weekend's two one-day internationals at rain-hit Stormont.

Junaid Khan took four wickets for 12 runs and spinner Saeed Ajmal had figures of 3-6 as the visitors skittled out the Irish for 96 in only 20 overs.

Mohammad Hafeez's 52 helped Pakistan ease to victory after he and Taufeeq Umar put on 73 for the opening wicket.

The sides meet again at the Belfast venue on Monday.

Junaid had only claimed three wickets in his five previous one-day internationals but he ripped through a disappointing Irish top order as the home side registered their lowest total since their 91 all-out against Australia at the 2007 World Cup.

After Ed Joyce was out for one in the opening over, wickets fell at regular intervals with only Paul Stirling - who top-scored for the hosts with 39 from 22 balls - providing significant resistance.

Play was delayed by more than three hours due to morning rain and the match was reduced to 36 overs-a-side.

In reply, Pakistan put on 73 for the opening wicket and while Alex Cusack claimed three late dismissals, the result was never in doubt.

In the build-up to the match, Ireland coach Phil Simmons had denied that his side would be under pressure to prove a point to the International Cricket Councilexternal-link in this weekend games.

The ICC announced in April that associate nations would be excluded from the 2015 World Cup but that is now being reviewed following an outcry.

Misbah-ul-Haq captained Pakistan following last week's sacking of Shahid Afridi, who did not travel to Ireland because his father is in hospital undergoing liver treatment.

This weekend's matches are Ireland's only opportunity to push their case forward on the field before the ICC's final decision on the 2015 World Cup in June.

Kevin O'Brien's thumping century helped Ireland clinch a sensational victory over England at this year's World Cup but there was no repeat of those heroics as the all-rounder was bowled by Junaid for 15.

Ireland shocked Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup but there was never any prospect of a repeat on Saturday as the visitors completely dominated.

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