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Match Report
Ian Callender, Richard Gibson

This was the game Ireland had targeted as a possible win in the Super Eight stages. Bangladesh had got to this stage with a win over India, achieved on the same day that Ireland beat Pakistan. Ireland made one change to their team from the one that lost to Australia, with Andre Botha, recovered from his hamstring injury, returning for John Mooney.

Report by Richard Gibson for Newsletter on April 16th 2007.

Miracle workers Ireland claimed the scalp of their second Test-playing nation at the World Cup as they defeated Bangladesh by 74 runs in Barbados yesterday. Bangladesh were set 244 to win but lost wickets at a regular rate throughout. Mohammad Ashraful, 35, played some fine shots but when he went with the score on 102-5 defeat was inevitable. Earlier, William Porterfield grafted his way to an invaluable 85 while Kevin O'Brien, 48, and Trent Johnston, 30, supplied some late Irish fireworks.

The match was supposed to be one of the highlights of the Super 8 stage, with Pakistan and India coming head to head at the splendidly rebuilt Kensington Oval. But instead of the two Asian giants, who both crashed out at the group stage, it was left to the two bottom-ranked teams remaining in the tournament to try and put on a show.

After winning the toss and batting, the Irish faced a testing new-ball spell from Shahadat Hossain and Mashrafe bin Mortaza on a wicket featuring good pace and bounce. Porterfield rode his luck twice edging short of second slip and being dropped off a no-ball, but Bangladesh could not make the breakthrough. Ireland, whose highest opening partnership in the tournament had been just seven, patiently worked their way to 32-0 after 10 overs. Porterfield, who should have been caught and bowled by Mohammad Rafique in the 17th over, was the more positive of the openers. Jeremy Bray, who started the tournament with an unbeaten 115 against Zimbabwe, but followed up more recently with scores of 0, 0, 1, 1, was content to accumulate, and they put on a vital 92 before the first wicket fell in the 26th over. Porterfield, on 49, called Bray through for a single and the non-striker's hesitation was enough to cost him his wicket as he was run out by Saqibul Hasan for 31.

New batsmen Eoin Morgan was soon run out as well as the pressure being applied by Bangladesh's trio of left-arm spinners forced Ireland to chance their arm with some risky running. With runs hard to come by, they started to try the unorthodox and Niall O'Brien was the next to go when he reverse swept Hasan to backward point to leave Ireland 128-3 in the 34th over.

That brought his brother, Kevin, to the crease and, after playing himself in, he injected some much-needed urgency. It had been nearly 13 overs since the last boundary but he belted Razzak for a six and a four as 15 came off the 39th over. Ireland lost the patient Porterfield with just over eight overs to go but O'Brien was determined to raise the run rate and he cracked 48, including two fours and two sixes, off 44 balls before becoming the third run out victim in the 48th over. Captain Johnston also opened his shoulders, scoring 30 off 23 deliveries before falling in the final over, and they ensured Ireland posted a competitive total.

Bangladesh has plenty of talent but their very young side is not renowned for its ability to pace a run chase and they were soon in trouble. Ireland's 6'8" opening bowler Boyd Rankin, who took 2-42, was always going to be a handful on the bouncy track and he got Ireland off to a fine start when he forced Shahriar Nafees to glove a catch behind in the seventh over with the score on 18. Aftab Ahmed, all 5'2" of him, briefly threatened, flicking the towering Rankin over mid-wicket for six but he got carried away when Andre Botha was introduced into the attack. The medium pacer served up a wide half-volley with his first delivery and Aftab was on his way for 12 after providing Niall O'Brien was his second catch of the innings.

The Tigers then lost Saqibul Hasan in unfortunate circumstances as he narrowly failed to recover his ground as the non-striker after Botha had deflected a drive on to the stumps to leave them 48-3. Bangladesh now needed Ashraful and Tamin Iqbal to build a big partnership. Both players duly unveiled some fine shots, with one textbook cover drive from Ashraful, the ball after he had pulled Botha for six, sending the knowledgeable Kensington Oval crowd into raptures. But Tamin got over-excited and yorked himself for 29 when facing Trent Johnston and Ashraful soon pulled the same bowler straight down the throat of Dave Langford-Smith at deep square-leg, after scoring 35 off 36 balls, to leave them 102-5.

The writing was on the wall, and although captain Habibul Bashar was given a massive let-off when Langford-Smith dropped him in a near carbon-copy of the Ashraful dismissal, Ireland kept the pressure on. The Tigers edged their way to 131 but then lost three wickets for seven runs in just 18 deliveries. Abdur Razzak provided some late resistance before he was cleaned up by off-spinner Kyle McCallan and Ireland captain Johnston wrapped things up when he bowled opposite number Bashar for 32.

Report by Ian Callender for the Daily Mail on April 16th 2007.

Ireland are officially in with the big boys. A glorious 74-run victory against Bangladesh, their second success at the World Cup finals, was enough to give them full ODI status and guaranteed series against the full member countries for as long as they want. It could also earn them seventh place in the Super 8's and an extra $50,000 but the money was not on the minds of the Ireland players as they achieved their most significant ever victory.

Fittingly it was captain fantastic Trent Johnston who took the final wicket to seal the triumph and the Kensington Oval turned into a sea of green. Every one of the team was a hero as William Porterfield and Jeremy Bray finally came good on the same day, leaving behind their embarrassing run of single figure partnerships in the Caribbean, to give Kevin O'Brien and Johnston the opportunity to ram home their side's advantage.

Ireland scored 98 in the last 12 overs to post 243-7, their highest total in the World Cup, and the bowlers responded superbly. Boyd Rankin got his usual early wicket, while Andre Botha, back in the team after missing the last two games, and Johnston followed up with one apiece and the Ireland game plan worked to perfection. Kyle McCallan squeezed the runs and David Langford-Smith, who had to endure the horror of dropping Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar, came back to take two wickets and reduce Bangladesh 138-8. That was the cue for Ireland's Call to be trumpeted out from the Greenwich and Haynes stand and every other seating area at the World Cup final venue also rocked to the chanting, singing and cheering delirious euphoria of the Irish fans who had travelled to Barbados to witness a unique moment. And it wasn't just Ireland supporters. It may not have been India against Pakistan, as the World Cup organisers had planned today, but the atmosphere was every bit as good as any number of thousands from the sub-continent could have generated because the gates were thrown open, 90 minutes after play began, and a crowd approaching 20,000 watched the action.

The majority may not have seen the start of Ireland's innings but they were there in force at the end as Kevin O'Brien and Trent Johnston plundered 78 runs from 67 balls, the Irish finishing in the style of a top-class one-day side. They were able to do it because of the 92 run partnership for the first wicket, Ireland's highest opening stand in their 16 ODIs. Neither Porterfield or Bray had enjoyed any sort of form before this game, the former had looked out of his depth against the Test bowling attacks and Bray had scored just two runs in his last four games.

The Australian did not look much better yesterday but, crucially, he hung in there and although scoring only 31 from 70 balls, thwarted the Bangladesh opening bowlers and saw off the first 11 overs of spin. Porterfield is the best fielder in the team and also the best runner but he set such high standards that his team-mates fail to reach his expectations. The Donemana man must admit he was culpable for losing his first partner when, on 49, he called Bray for a single. He did not wait to see if the ball had passed the bowler and when Saqibul Hasan swooped, he picked up the ball and in one movement threw down the stumps at the far end with Bray short of his ground. Two overs later, with his first 50 in nine innings safely under his belt, Porterfield did the same again, albeit with a more compliant Eoin Morgan, but again the fielder chose the right end and the Middlesex player failed to beat the throw, chasing the second. It was a particular disappointment for Morgan as he had survived a dropped catch on the mid-wicket boundary off his second delivery, the ball going through the fielder's hands for four, and the dismissal just added to his list of failures at this World Cup.

Niall O'Brien's first attempt at the reverse sweep was played well enough but, unfortunately, straight into the hands of the backward point fielder. His brother, so impressive in this tournament, continued his form and after consolidating in the fourth wicket stand with Porterfield, Kevin broke free with two huge sixes and a couple of other boundaries. His 48 came off just 44 balls. By the 42nd over Porterfield was within sight of achieving his task of batting through the innings, he hit only three boundaries, until he also attempted a reverse sweep. It left Ireland with two "hitters" at the crease as Johnston had no hesitation in promoting himself up the order and he stayed to the last over. Ireland could afford to lose three late wickets and still finished just seven short of 250. It proved more than enough and for Irish cricket it just doesn't get any better than this.

Man-of-the-Match, William Porterfield, claimed he and Bray had believed they could post a competitive total. The pair put on 92 for the first wicket to give the Irish a strong foundation. "We knew there was going to be a bit of pace and bounce but we managed to get past that and set a good total", he said. "We got stuck in, it wasn't easy, but we got through it. I think it has gone a bit crazy back home but it's all good and hopefully cricket can kick on." Ireland skipper Trent Johnston was proud of his side's performance after they bounced back from the resounding defeat by Australia. "We spoke about it after the game, we knew we had to get all three disciplines right today and we did", he said. "It's almost like we played the perfect game."

Ireland now face Sri Lanca in their final game and the 32-year old is hoping to give the team's coach, Adrian Birrell, a fitting farewell. "We've got a big game. It's the last game for coach Adrian Birrell and it would be fitting to give him a good send off", he added. "We need to work hard for our last game

Man of the match award went to Ireland's opener, William Porterfield.

This win put Ireland up into 7th place in the Super Eights table, with one game left to play against Sri Lanka. If they can do well in that game, at worst avoiding a heavy defeat, and West Indies beat Bangladesh in the latter's final game, Ireland might be able to hang on to 7th place, and the extra $50,000 that would go with that.

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