Here we go again. Ireland are off on another World Cup Super Eights adventure after a stunning victory in their opening World Twenty20 game over Bangladesh. As if beating Pakistan and the Tigers in the Caribbean in 2007 wasn't enough, they made it two wins out of two in ICC events against the team directly above them in the ODI rankings. And, yet again, it was thoroughly deserved, Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful admitting Ireland outplayed them in all three disciplines.
Ireland obviously do not do warm-up matches. There wasn't an inkling that this squad could cause an upset in the six Twenty20 games prior to this tournament - their only win was after a tie with Netherlands, for goodness sake - but when it mattered this team rise to the occasion. And how. National coach Phil Simmons clearly took no notice of the match preparations either as he put out his tried and trusted - his five county professionals, his two full-timers plus Jeremy Bray, John Mooney, Kyle McCallan and Regan West who were all certainties to play anyway. They did not let him down.
Man of the match was Niall O'Brien who began the Ireland victory charge with 40 from just 25 balls with six boundaries, half of them sixes. No surprise there, the Northamptonshire wicket-keeper/batsman has been Ireland's best batsman in the last week. But his brother K evin came into this match averaging just 13 but and had not hit a single six, the feature of his batting. O'Brien junior admitted he was playing "really badly" but as Niall revealed in the post-match press conference: "I told him it doesn't matter how you play before a tournament starts, once you walk out in a competitive match that's what counts and Kevin has done it again - 39 off 17 balls (with four fours and two sixes). He is as big a hitter as any team has and he is a power tool coming in towards the back end of the innings." His devastating hitting - the sixes sprinkled into the stand which housed the mass ranks of Ireland supporters - hurried the match to its conclusion 10 balls early but O'Brien senior also paid tribute to the man who helped Kevin see it home, John Mooney.
"It's probably the biggest game John has played in his life, yet you'd swear he'd done it 100 times before. So we're all delighted for Kev and John," added Niall. Mooney actually top scored for Ireland against Australia in the 2003 World Cup but this 17 from 14 balls in a winning cause will have given him so much more satisfaction.
Simmons' decision to leave out Peter Connell, along with Andre Botha, Paul Stirling and Andrew White, left Trent Johnston to share the new ball with Boyd Rankin and that tactic worked to perfection, his three wickets for 20 -his first four overs reducing Bangladesh to 50 for three. Niall O'Brien then ran out the big-hitting Tamin Iqbal and when Alex Cusack - another bowler out of form in the warm-ups - struck in his first over, the Tigers were 66 for five in the 11th over. Cusack conceded 20 in his last over and still went for "only 38' but a victory target of 138 was one Ireland would have snatched your hand off for after William Porterfield won the toss. McCallan was belatedly rewarded with the wicket of Roqibul Hassan, but the concession of only 17 runs was hugely influential in restricting the Tigers while West followed up his sterling performance against South Africa with another steady four overs.
When Ireland batted, Porterfield lost Bray for just two, caught off bat-pad, but then was able to watch contentedly from the other end as Niall O'Brien scored all but 15 of the second wicket partnership of 55. Niall eventually mistimed one to long-off and 10 balls later the captain perished to a simple return catch to Abdur Rassaq. Gary Wilson faced 10 balls for 15 but on his dismissal, caught at extra cover, the Mooney-Kevin O'Brien exhibition could begin. It lasted only four overs but, invaluably, added 49 runs and Ireland were through to the Super Eights.
The only gloom for Ireland on this glorious day was an ankle injury to Niall O'Brien - he had to bat with a runner - after he "heard a crack" in the final over of the Bangladesh innings. He is determined, however, to play against world champions India, back at Trent Bridge tomorrow and then Ireland can ink in three more dates in their schedule. The Super Eight games are in Nottingham against New Zealand on Thursday, Sri Lanka at Lord's on Sunday and Pakistan at The Oval on Monday.
- William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien meet the press
- William Porterfield who made 23
- Jeremy Bray departs
- Niall O'Brien
- Bangladesh bowling
- Porterfield and Niall O'Brien put on 55 runs for the second wicket
- Turned off his legs by Niall O'Brien
- Cheerful supporters
- William Porterfield
- Agony for Niall O'Brien
- John Mooney
- John Mooney batting
- Kevin O'Brien keeps close eye on the ball
- Six hit
- Smashed away by Kevin O'Brien
- Kevin O'Brien
- Attempted run out
- Delighted dug out
- Roy Torrens happy
- Another boundary for Kevin O'Brien
- Ireland delighted
- Smiling John Mooney
- John Kenny talking to Jeremy Bray
- The crowd celebrate
- Niall O'Brien chatting with Shane Watson
- Winning Ireland team
- Niall O'Brien with his brother and nephew
- William Porterfield delighted
- William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien
- Relaxed Ireland
- Trent Bridge
- The celebrations continue
- John Mooney being interviewed
- Roy Torrens and Pete Johnston
- Andre Botha
- William Porterfield and Chris Broad
- Kyle McCallan
- Boyd Rankin
- Boyd Rankin bowling
- Clipped away
- Caught by Jeremy Bray
- Ireland celebrate
- Boyd Rankin bowling
- Trent Johnston does a 'Shearer'
- Smashed away
- Held by Gary Wilson
- Gary Wilson delighted
- Trent Johnston
- The smile says it from Phil Simmons
- Regan West
- Kyle McCallan bowling
- Fancy dress was the order of the day
- Alex Cusack
- Kyle McCallan celebrates
- Catch for John Mooney
- Skipper William Porterfield
- Attempted stop by Regan West
- William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin
- Agony for Niall O'Brien