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Ireland thrashes Bangla hopes
15 Apr 2007
By: Sudeep Popat

It would have taken poor cricket from a lot of other teams for Bangladesh to make it to the semi-finals. But there was still a chance. It is gone now though, as they have been beaten comprehensively by Ireland. Chasing 244 for a win that would have put them in contention for the fourth spot on the points table, with a match against the bruised and battered West Indies coming up, Bangladesh lost regular wickets, to look, at no point in their innings, even close to coming close to the target.

Ireland, after choosing to bat first, got off to by far their best start in the tournament, even if it was at a slower run-rate. The first-wicket partnership of William Porterfield and Jeremy Bray put together 92 runs, to set-up the innings for a decent score that would test Bangladeshi batsmen. They started off cautiously, against a testing first spell by the two opening bowlers of Bangladesh. There were a few half chances given, but the fielding side could not make good of them.

Bray, the less positive of the two batsmen coming into the match with four failures in a row despite a century just before that, was content to nudge the ball around for singles, whereas Porterfield, was a bit more aggressive, taking chances of bad deliveries. Bray fell for 31, when he hesitated to run on Porterfield's call, who himself was eager to get to his half-century.

A couple of overs later, Eoin Morgan fell too, run out again, trying to steal a run after being bogged down by the left-arm spinners that are a feature of Bangladesh's bowling attack. Niall O'Brien, who has been Ireland's best batsman in the tournament, was the next to go for 10, as he tried to be innovative to Saqibul Hasan, and miscued a reverse sweep to backward point, with the Irish at 128-3.

Kevin O'Brien, the next man in, brought about a change in the pace of the innings, showing a more aggressive approach to the spin trio of Bangladesh. In the 39th over, he hit Abdur Razzak for a four, the first for 13 overs, and followed it up with a six. Ireland lost Porterfield with eight overs remaining, for 85, but it was probably good for them, as the opener was finding it difficult to strike the ball hard enough to clear the field.

Porterfield's wicket brought the captain Trent Johnston to the middle, who himself along with O'Brien, dismissed just short of a half-century for 48, opened his shoulders, to take Ireland well past 200. By the last over when Johnston fell, Ireland had reached a decent score, and ended up with 243-7.

Bangladesh never looked in the chase at any point, losing regular wickets. The tall opening bowler, Boyd Rankin, picked up Shahriar Nafees in his first spell, caught behind, whereas Andre Botha picked up Aftab Ahmed and Saqibul Hasan, caught behind and run out, respectively, to reduce the Bangladeshis to 48-3 in the 13th overs. Mohammad Ashraful started some rear-guard action following the three wickets, with the other opener Tamim Iqbal holding one end.

Iqbal finally fell with to Johnston in the 20th over though yorked beautifully by the captain, and from then on, it was all downhill for Bangladesh. Ashraful was dismissed soon afterwards, unable to control a pull off Rankin, back for his second spell, and holding out to Dave Langford-Smith, for 35.

Despite letting off the Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar early in his innings, when Langford-Smith missed a catch similar to one he had taken of Ashraful, Ireland never let the pressure off. Bashar and Mushfiqur Rahim put together a partnership of 29, which was painfully slow and without any real hope of causing any damage. And Bangaldesh soon gave into the pressure losing three wickets for seven runs after Rahim's dismissal to Kyle McCallan. A similar partnership followed after the three wickets, between Bashar and Abdur Razzak, but by then it was a hopeless cause.

The innings was wrapped up at 169, by the Ireland captain Johnston, when he had his opposite number Bashar, bowled for 32, to give Ireland their second win in the World Cup, against a Test-playing nation. Bangladesh, who had an outside chance of reaching the semi-finals, despite beating two Test-playing nations already, in India and South Africa, because of their loss to Ireland are now in no hope of advancing, even if they beat a shabby-looking West Indies.

Ireland 243-7 in 50 overs
William Porterfield 85 (136), Jeremy Bray 31 (70), Kevin O'Brien 48 (44), Trent Johnston 30 (23)
Mashrafe Mortaza 2-38 (10)

Bangladesh 169 all out in 41.2 overs
Mohammad Ashraful 35 (36), Habibul Bashar 32 (57)
Boyd Rankin 2-42 (8), Dave Langford-Smith 2-27 (10), Trent Johnston 2-40 (7.2), Kyle McCallan 2-25 (8)

Ireland won by 74 runs

Man of the Match: William Porterfield 85 (136)

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