Before the start of the game, many people were commenting that it would be a big upset if Ireland knocked out Bangladesh. What rubbish! Quite honestly, the Irishmen clearly held the upper hand when it came to this game. For one, there were a number of their players who were playing for English counties (Niall O’Brien for Kent & now Northants, Kevin O’Brien for Notts, Will Porterfield for Derbyshire and Boyd Rankin for Derbys & now Warwicks) and the conditions were clearly similar to the ones back home in Ireland. However, most of the players in the Bangladesh side had never played in England and besides, they don’t win matches very often at home so it was quite befuddling to see everyone commenting how this could be a big upset when Kevin was taking them over the line.
Going to the game, Porterfield won the toss and chose to field. More than the fact that the bowlers did quite well, it was, to a large extent, Bangladesh’s own fault that they crept to such a poor total. The Banglas still don’t seem to get it into their heads that they shouldn’t always look to play the big shots but look for the gaps and try to get the 2s and the 3s, even in T20s. They use the same approach in ODIs, and they though that it would work in T20s, at least, but it was not to be. Clearly, consolidation is important, however ridiculous it may seem considering the length of an inning, but the Bangladeshis don’t seem to understand this as they tried to go at a rollicking pace. Their shot selection was poor all throughout the innings, exacerbated by the skipper Ashraful, who continues to frustrated despite being the captain.
However, nothing should be taken away from Trent Johnston, who picked up 3/20 and the spinner Kyle McCallan, who gave away a miserly 17 runs for a wicket in his quota. There was a spell in the innings where all the swings by the Bangladeshis weren’t going to the boundary for nearly 71 balls, which, yet again, led to a flurry of wickets before 20 runs were picked from the last over by Mortaza, giving the total a bit of respectability.
The Irish innings got off to a bad start, Jeremy Bray getting out on the 4th ball. However, the experienced Niall O’Brien, suffering from a cracked ankle sustained during the Bangladesh innings, gave the innings some momentum, carting 40 runs off 25 balls and picking the gaps perfectly before he got out. The required run rate kept mounting and mounting as Bangladesh’s only top 10 ODI bowler, Abdul Razzak, and the world’s No.1 all-rounder, Shakib Al Hasan, strangled the Irish batsmen. Out came the burly Kevin O’Brien, who punished every bowler in sight and as he smashed 39 runs off 15 balls, inclusive of 4 fours and 2 sixes, to seal the game for Ireland.
One thing notable after the win was the way Ireland celebrated it. Rather than running onto the pitch like the Dutch did after their win against England, they were just high – fives in the dugout and some hugs, clearly showing that they too expected to win!