For the second successive World Cup match, Ireland failed trial by spin and were forced to surrender the first Super Eight clash to England. But they continued to show they belong in the big league. Aside from embarrassing one-time colleague Ed Joyce, they successfully stifled most of the big guns before a late surge lifted England to 266-7.
Against West Indies last week, it was Chris Gayle who tied down the Ireland batsmen and yesterday, in the heat of the National Stadium in Guyana, it was Monty Panesar and the unlikely figure of Michael Vaughan who held the upper hand. Set 267 to win after an impressive 90 by Paul Collingwood Ireland were comfortable and up with the required rate for 21 overs. However, the next 19 overs yielded just 67 runs for the loss of three wickets and it was left to captain Trent Johnston (27 off 21 balls with two sixes) and Andrew White (38 off 35 balls with four fours) to plunder Ireland to respectability. The final margin of defeat was 48 runs.
The innings got off to the worst possible start when Jeremy Bray drove his first ball straight to the deep gully and when, three overs later, Eoin Morgan called William Porterfield for a quick single and was run out by the bowler, Ireland had lost her best two batsmen with just 11 runs on the board. William Porterfield looked good for 11 overs but, just as he did against Pakistan, got bogged down and 8 overs later gave his wicket away to Andrew Flintoff. Andre Botha was the first victim of spin, frustrated enough to sky Panesar to long-on and Kevin O'Brien was a leg before victim. The early hero for Ireland was Niall O'Brien who, having survived a chance to Ed Joyce on nine, played a composed innings of 63 before being stumped, off his pads.
For 45 overs of the England innings, Ireland were satisfied with their morning's work. Then Collingwood was rewarded for his patience on a difficult pitch to score runs and broke free. From 201-5, England hit five fours and four sixes in five overs of mayhem which produced 65 runs and put England out of sight. Collingwood, the batting success of the recent Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia, continued his rich vein of form with a second half-century of the World Cup. His 90 came off 82 deliveries and included 11 boundaries, three of them maximums. Johnston and Botha were on the receiving end of the late onslaught, but before that all the bowlers kept the England batsmen under pressure.
The sweetest wicket was, undoubtedly, the first. Ed Joyce, although a former Ireland team-mate of the majority of the squad, was the "enemy" in the Providence Stadium. The feeling, obviously, wasn't mutual because Ed gifted Rankin his wicket, shouldering arms to Boyd's first ball and he lost his off stump. With back to back half centuries against Canada and Kenya under his belt, it was a surprising non-shot from what should have been a confident batsman. When you are facing the country of your birth, however, the mind can do funny things and in two innings against Ireland, Joyce has scored 11 runs
Vaughan started like a million-dollar batsman but he too has a millstone around his neck. He has never scored a one-day century and he never threatened this time as Rankin struck again with the second ball of his third over, the England captain leaving his bat dangling outside off-stump and Niall O'Brien swooped to take the low catch. The third wicket partnership of 66 between Bell and Kevin Pietersen may have got the England innings back on course but it did nothing to get the number three into form. Bell scratched around for 74 balls for his 31 runs, with just two boundaries to his name, before Kevin O'Brien put him out of his misery, his second ball brushing the glove and his older brother claimed his second dismissal.
In contrast Pietersen, at least at the start of his innings, was poetry in motion. He walked to the middle as the world's best one-day batsmen and showed why with a classic array of shots all round the wicket. Off six successive balls, spread over three overs, he went 4-3-4-1-4-4 to take him into the 20s in double quick time. The arrival into the attack of Johnston and Botha put an end to that and Ireland regained a measure of control with disciplined bowling which not only saw England score just 12 runs in the third powerplay but eventually frustrated Pietersen. Seven short of a third half-century in the tournament, the South African turned Kyle McCallan straight to Porterfield's safe hands at mid-wicket.
Still the big names kept on coming, something Ireland will have to get used to in the Super Eights, and next it was Andrew Flintoff. He has not been in the best of form with the bat but he did a good job of disguising that with five firmly struck boundaries, including two in succession off Dave Langford-Smith which promptly curtailed his comeback spell to a solitary over.
The Ireland bowlers, however, would not be denied and Johnston got the prize wicket, Flintoff going for a late cut which trickled back onto his stumps. It wasn't quite their last success, Botha halted Paul Nixon's late flourish and Collingwood was run out with four balls remaining, but there was no question which team dominated the last six overs. It settled the match. The Man-of-the-Match award went to Paul Collingwood.
- Boyd Rankin
- Billy Doctrove
- Michael Vaughan
- Boyd Rankin celebrates
- Boyd rankin is congratulated
- Michael Vaughan departs
- Kevin Pietersen on drives
- Trent Johnston bowling
- Kevin Pietersen
- Simon Taufel signals the end of Ian Bell
- Ian Bell departs
- A single for Flintoff
- Paul Collingwood on drives
- Dave Langford-Smith
- Flintoff pull shot
- Andrew White bowling
- Andrew Flintoff hits a boundary
- Andre Botha
- A happy Trent Johnston
- Andrew Flintoff
- Niall O' Brien takes a return
- Eoin Morgan dives to take a catch....
- ... and clings on to the Paul Nixon chance
- Paul Collingwood who top scored for England
- You looking at me?
- Saj Mahmood
- William Porterfield
- Paul Mooney
- Monty Panesar
- 50 for Niall O Brien
- Paul Nixon
- Michael Vaughan takes a return
- Niall O Brien who top scored for Ireland
- Andrew Flintoff points the way
- Trent Johnston hits a six
- Andrew White cuts a four
- Flintoff traps langford-Smith lbw
- A handshake for Rankin
- Smiles all around
- Paul Mooney and Ed Joyce
- Ed Joyce