Ireland's competition ended by damp squib
Emmet Riordan (Irish Times)
A CRICKETING SUMMER ruined by rain ended with the dampest squib of them all in Colombo last night as Ireland's hopes of making it through to the Super Eights stage of a World Twenty20 finals were ended by the weather as the West Indies went through in second place from Group B on run rate after the game was abandoned and the points shared.
Two years' ago Ireland's chances of turning over England were ended by the rain in Guyana and once again the ICC's decision to hold the event during a rainy season backfired in a tournament that has failed to grab the attention of the Sri Lankan public and cricket fans alike.
Ireland still had plenty of work to do in yesterday's winner-takes-all tussle, having got over another poor start to make 129 for six from their 19 overs, with solid if not spectacular batting displays that saw seven batsman make it to double figures, albeit with the best being Niall O'Brien's 25 off 21 balls.
Ireland skipper William Porterfield again fell first ball to make it two golden ducks in a miserable tournament. This time there was some mitigation in the fact Fidel Edwards's opening delivery would have been good enough for most batsman, as some late inswing saw Porterfield castled.
In partnership with Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce rebuilt with the help of some streaky boundaries before Stirling opened his shoulders to hit consecutive boundaries off Darren Sammy before the rain arrived with Ireland on 33 for one.
It was bad timing for Ireland and their return to the middle nearly an hour later proved that as Joyce was bowled around his legs by spinner Sunil Narine for 17, while Stirling holed out on 19 to Chris Gayle at mid-wicket off Sammy to leave Ireland on 33 for seven.
Again Ireland regrouped in the hands of Gary Wilson (21) and Niall O'Brien in a 33-run stand that was ended when Gayle's quicker ball caught the edge of Wilson's bat on the way through to the wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
Gayle would also clean-bowl Niall O'Brien, while former Ireland professional Ravi Rampaul accounted for his younger brother Kevin as he moved across his stumps to play to the leg side after he had made 13. Trent Johnston and Nigel Jones both cleared the ropes for sixes in an unbeaten seventh-wicket stand of 22 that pushed Ireland on to 129 for six at the end of 19 overs.
Ireland would have needed an exemplary display with the ball and in the field to restrict a West Indies side brimming with big hitters from reaching their target, and they were already hamstrung by the loss of opening bowler Boyd Rankin after he failed to recover from the stomach bug that affected half the squad in the build-up to the game.
It prevented Rankin from playing in what would become his final game for Ireland as he will now retire from international cricket here in a bid to further his chances of playing Test cricket for England. In the end, he wouldn't have made it on to the pitch as the rain returned with a vengeance and once the cut-off time for a five-over game, with the Windies set a target of 44, had passed by, it was curtains for Ireland and the desperate disappointment of not knowing what might have been.
"It would obviously have been a massive challenge," said Porterfield. "But you never know. We would rather go out of a tournament having two defeats as opposed to not knowing.
"It's obviously disappointing to go out like this, but there's not a lot we can do. We played six months this summer and we had as much rain as anything else. It's just been a frustrating year in terms of the weather."