Ireland washed out in Sri Lanka
Ireland's ICC World T20 campaign ended in frustration in the Colombo rain on Monday evening as a "no result" meant that it was the West Indies that progressed to the Super Eights as Phil Simmons' charges headed back to Dublin.
The day started in downbeat fashion for the boys in green as illness ruled Boyd Rankin out of a starting place in what was supposed to be his final match in the shamrock shirt, the big pace bowler heading into International retirement in a totally unbefitting manner. Rankin's place went to Max Sorensen as Ireland made just that one forced change to the side that had lost to Australia last week.
The omens were little better when West Indies won the toss and put Ireland in, no doubt with one eye on the gathering gloom above, however bad though that may have been, things were about to get a lot worse. William Porterfield's stay at the crease against Australia had lasted a well-documented one ball and the Irish skipper had a horrified look on his face when the nightmare scenario came back to haunt him here- the left hander's fifth International golden duck of the year.
It was impossible not to feel sick for the Warwickshire man and while it will have been of little consolation to him, Fidel Edwards' inswinging yorker was a ripper to get first up. Two streaky boundaries from Ed Joyce in the same over got the Irish board ticking over but almost seemed to emphasise the difference a few millimetres can make when your luck is out.
Joyce and Stirling then rallied to some extent and both had moved into double figures when the rain arrived with Ireland 33-1 after 5 overs. A 40-minute delay saw the game reduced to 19-overs a side and the Windies immediately turned to Sunil Narine on the restart, no doubt hoping to take advantage of the break.
The spinner's first two deliveries to Joyce turned square but when the left hander tried to compensate with the third he left his leg stump sticking out and Narine promptly knocked it over.
That was bad enough but when Paul Stirling top edged a simple chance to Chris Gayle in the very next over Ireland were back in trouble at 37-3. Narine and indeed all the West Indies bowlers were containing the Irish batsmen quite well although Gary Wilson and Niall O'Brien managed to nudge the score along with a 33-run stand.
The pair were parted when Gayle of all people entered the attack and had Wilson caught behind for 21 bringing Kevin O'Brien to the middle to join his brother. Scoring was still patchy however and the siblings struggled a touch until Kevin blasted the final ball of Edwards' over for 6 as Ireland looked to break the shackles.
Unfortunately hopes were dashed again in the very next ball as Gayle bowled Niall for 25 to leave the batting side 96-5, the stop-start effect hurting the Irish momentum. New batsman Trent Johnston refused to be intimidated and sent a huge six off Gayle sailing into the stands however that too was followed by a wicket as Ravi Rampaul bowled Kevin O'Brien for 13 at the start of the 17th over.
Narine's figures were spoiled a touch as Johnston and Nigel Jones took 10 from his last but Rampaul kept the pressure on conceding just 7 from the final over as Ireland closed on 129-6.
Just as the sides prepared for the second innings the rains swept back in and such was the intensity that most knew that the pendulum had swung away completely. Organisers announced that a minimum of 5 overs would be required to complete the contest with Gayle and Co requiring 44 but they never got the chance as play was abandoned as a draw.
The Windies went through on run rate and Ireland took their leave of a tournament that had promised much more that it ever threatened to deliver.
And that will no doubt be the most disappointing aspect of all.