Ireland will face Aussies on a high after victory
CRICKET:AFTER LOSING a home series to Bangladesh 3-0 back in July, Ireland’s bowlers fought hard in broiling conditions yesterday to help secure a five-run win over the Tigers in the final warm-up game ahead of the World Twenty20 finals in Colombo.
It means Phil Simmons’s side will go into tomorrow’s opener against Australia on the back of four straight victories in their warm-up matches in Colombo, with the coach no doubt delighted that his players are coming to the boil at the right time.
On the batting side yesterday, opener Paul Stirling gave a display of hitting that yet again showed his ability to tear apart a bowling attack. And with the wickets due to favour batsmen in the tournament, the form of the 22-year-old Middlesex player will be vital at the top of the order with scores of 160-plus looking like being only par.
Stirling’s 71 came from just 42 deliveries and included five fours and five sixes as Ireland made 164 for six from their 20 overs. An opening partnership of 46 with William Porterfield was ended when the skipper was run out for 17 in the fifth over, but Stirling again enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Ed Joyce (39) as they added 64 for the second wicket before Stirling was bowled by Elias Sunny.
Ireland were 110 for two at that point, but lost their momentum when Stirling departed and were only able to garner 54 runs from the remaining 52 deliveries as Bangladesh’s slow bowlers started to turn the screw, with left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan and paceman Mashrafe Mortaza both taking two wickets in an over.
Bangladesh tore from the blocks, taking 15 runs off Boyd Rankin’s only over, with Shakib hitting back-to-back sixes off George Dockrell as his only over went for 19.
It put them in a commanding position at 103 for two at the end of 10 overs before Nigel Jones made the vital breakthrough in his first over when Shakib hit him straight to Kevin O’Brien at long-on after making 53 from 23 balls.
O’Brien changed the face of the game with two wickets in the next over and finished with three for 24 from his four overs, while great death bowling from Alex Cusack and Trent Johnston, who took two wickets in a brilliant final over, meant Bangladesh could only score seven runs off their last overs for the loss of three wickets.
Stirling believes the manner of victory will stand to Ireland when the competition starts proper.
“We’ve a great team ethic and spirit, and we never know when we’re beaten,” said Stirling.
“They were heavy favourites today going into the final 10 overs, but we managed to claw it back getting wickets at vital times. We managed to scrape through, although I was always confident when they needed 10 from the final over with Trent in control.”
On his personal form, Stirling added: “It’s always nice to score a few runs which gives you confidence going into the tournament proper, so hopefully I’m peaking at the right time.
“We’re playing great cricket as a team at the minute and it’s a fantastic achievement to get four wins out of four and a massive confidence boost for the lads.”
Australia lost their final warm-up game to England by nine runs in Colombo, with former Irish star Eoin Morgan making 30 off 16 deliveries in their total of 172 for six, while Alex Hales top-scored with 52.
The reigning T20 champions then withstood an onslaught from Mike Hussey, who clubbed five sixes in his 71, to limit their Ashes rivals to 163 for six in response.