Four in a row for Ireland
IRELAND will go into the World Twenty20 group stage tomorrow on the back of four consecutive warm-up wins after a thrilling comeback victory against Bangladesh in Colombo.
At one stage, the Test-playing nation only required 62 to win from 10 overs with eight wickets in hand, but somehow still needed 10 for victory at the start of the final over.
Trent Johnston took a wicket with the third ball and performed a run-out two deliveries later, leaving Bangladesh looking for a maximum to level the scores. A single was all they could manage and Ireland won by five runs.
"We always look to start strongly in both innings, but that didn't happen for us with the ball," Johnston said. "But we knew from playing them in Belfast this summer that if you got one wicket, you could get another two or three."
It was the third successive T20 between the two sides to go to the final ball, and again Ireland showed they can compete with weaker Test sides, following last week's trouncing of Zimbabwe.
Paul Stirling thrashed 71 as Ireland were put in to bat, but the innings stalled and a total of 164-6 looked inadequate as Bangladesh raced to 100 inside 10 overs.
But just as Ireland had faltered, the Tigers' chase also lost its way in the face of disciplined seam bowling from Nigel Jones, Kevin O'Brien and Alex Cusack.
Jones removed Shakib al Hasan for 53 from only 22 balls, but it was O'Brien who did the real damage with two wickets in his first over on the way to figures of 3-24. Cusack claimed two wickets as Bangladesh finished on 159-9.
Warm-up wins against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will ensure Ireland leave the tournament with an enhanced reputation on the world stage, no matter how they fare against Australia tomorrow and the West Indies on Monday in Group B.
Meanwhile, England survived a Michael Hussey onslaught to start their warm-up campaign with a scrambled nine-run victory over Australia.
Hussey (71) almost single-handedly kept his team's hopes alive after wrecking young spinner Danny Briggs' figures with three consecutive sixes over mid-wicket. Stuart Broad finally got Hussey lbw and from there Australia ran out of steam to finish short of 172-6.