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Match Report
Ian Callender

Bangladesh "A" were in Ireland playing a mix of matches against Ireland and Ireland "A". The trip started with a 3-day "A" game, then was the first ever Ireland 20/20 game. The match was to be played in Eglinton in the North West.

Much of Ireland's first Twenty20 International at Eglinton was played in a persistent drizzle but Kyle McCallan's side took to the newest format of the game like a duck to water. Batting first, they made 161-6 and then, with a bowling performance every bit as impressive as their exploits against the counties in the Friends Provident Trophy, they dismissed Bangladesh "A" for just 79 in 16.1 overs.

With Trent Johnston and Andre Botha back in the same Ireland team for the first time this summer, and four county players set to return for the World Championship qualifiers in Belfast at the start of August, there is mounting confidence they will be involved in the money-spinning finals in England next year. Three of the Bangladesh "A" squad took part in last year's inaugural Twenty20 finals but they were overshadowed by Ireland's world cup stars.

Botha scored 62 from 41 balls with two sixes and seven fours before then bowling two overs for just six runs. Johnston, Ireland's heroic captain in the West Indies last year, who is restricting his appearances this season, proved again how much he is missed when not available. He faced only 10 balls but smashed 21 runs and then took 1-21 in four overs with the ball. The hapless tourists had no answer and McCallan hurried the innings to its conclusion with his third wicket, his 200th for Ireland, only the fifth bowler to achieve that landmark behind Dermott Monteith, Jimmy Boucher, Simon Corlett and Alec O'Riordan. In addition McCallan is the only one with the double of 3000 runs and 200 wickets.

Although Bangladesh "A" won the toss, after a hesitant opening Ireland just got better and better. Thinus Fourie was the sacrificial wicket at the top of the order and he duly departed to the first ball of the second over. At one stage Reinhardt Strydom faced eight balls in a row without scoring and Paul Stirling played out a maiden to Rubel Hossain but that was as bad as it got for Ireland. Strydom scored 30 from 32 balls and Sterling finished with 20 from 18 but the serious hitting started with Botha and Johnston. Their fourth wicket partnership was worth 42 in just 24 balls and although Botha lost Alex Cusack (five off eight) and Andrew White (10 off seven) in the rush for runs, Botha walked off undefeated when the overs ran out.

With Gary Kidd unavailable and Philip Eaglestone left out of the 12, Andrew Poynter and Peter Connell made their full Ireland debuts. The North Down opening bowler failed to take a wicket in his three overs but his pace and accuracy were impressive. Fourie shared the new ball and took a wicket in his first over, with the help of a smart catch at short extra by Botha. When Johnston came on in the seventh over and forced a reckless stroke out of Nadif Chowdrey, one of Bangladesh "A"s World Twenty20 players, the tourists were 41 for four and in all sorts of trouble. The other two wickets had come from run-outs.

You never miss a player until he retires and, with Botha back, Ireland can look forward to more of the same when the teams meet again over 50 overs at Upritchard Park, Bangor, tomorrow.