Boyd Rankin is proving a class apart in the World Twenty20 Qualifiers. The giant Warwickshire paceman won his third consecutive man of the match award as Ireland defeated the United States by 64 runs at the Global Academy Ground in Dubai.
After an unlucky blank in the opening defeat to Namibia, Rankin has taken 10 wickets in his last three games, bettering his personal best T20 figures each time, and with his height and extra bounce has proved far too good for the majority of the batsmen this week.
Halfway through his third over yesterday, he had figures of three for one, without the assistance of a team-mate, having hit the stumps twice and held a mistimed pull. With the penultimate ball of his spell - another direct hit - he took his fourth wicket for only the third time in 71 appearances for Ireland and was only a excellent block away from making it five with his final delivery. Still, figures of four wickets for just nine runs are pretty much untouchable.
When he took his cap to the applause of the 50-strong Irish support on the boundary, the USA were 52 for seven and their hopes of getting anywhere near Ireland's total of 160 for six had long gone.
Without Rankin's accuracy and hostility, Ireland had to stay in the field on the hottest Dubai day of the week so far for another 10 overs before confirming the victory which keeps them on course for second place in Group B.
For a while yesterday morning it looked as if Uganda, Ireland's opponents on Monday would do them a favour by beating Namibia but the west Africans, as they did against William Porterfield's side, scrambled over the line by four runs to make it four wins out of four.
Ireland have their sights, realistically, on a second place finish but they will have to beat Scotland. At least most of the batsmen have now spent time in the middle after Ed Joyce and Kevin O'Brien put on 86 for the fourth wicket yesterday.
Joyce, delighted to be promoted to No 3, showed he was back in his natural habitat with a run-a-ball 46 and O'Brien, naturally more belligerent, hit 47 off 36, with four boundaries, one more than Joyce, although he did hit two sixes.
With Porterfield scoring an unbeaten 56 against Italy and Gary Wilson that 49 against Namibia, only Paul Stirling is still waiting a big score. Yesterday he reached 17 for the second successive day before being caught behind, one of three shots which the first three batsman will not be proud of.
Runs for Alex Cusack would also be welcome - his first ball duck leaves him with an average of less than eight in the tournament - and while he wasn't one of the four bowlers used yesterday, he will almost certainly be called on against the Scots.
Porterfield chose to give Rankin and Trent Johnston the four overs at the top of the innings - he has been favouring one-over spells in the UAE heat - but although Johnston's figures look expensive his last two overs were his best and he was rewarded with two wickets as Ireland piled on the pressure.
- USA captain Sushil Nadkarni presents William Porterfield with a tie
- William Porterfield drives
- Driven down the ground by Paul Stirling
- Usman Shuja bowling
- William Porterfield plays on
- Wicket for Usman Shuja
- Usman Shuja leaps into action
- Edged behind by Paul Stirling
- Elmore Hutchinson celebrates the dismissal of Paul Stirling
- Elmore Hutchinson jumps for joy as Alex Cusack goes first ball
- Ed Joyce who scored 46 for Ireland
- Guided away by Ed Joyce
- Hit away by Kevin O'Brien
- Played through cover by Ed Joyce
- One handed six from Kevin O'Brien
- On driven by Ed Joyce
- Kevin O'Brien scored 47
- Khan bowling for the USA
- Boundary for Kevin O'Brien
- Cut away by Kevin O'Brien
- Ed Joyce chips a return catch to Rajp
- Pulled away by Gary Wilson
- Six hit by John Mooney
- Guided to the boundary by Gary Wilson
- Ghous just about holds on to the catch
- Steven Taylor congratulates Elmore Hutchinson
- Trent Johnston batting
- Kevin McLaughlin and McDaid
- The scoring partnership of Ian Callender and Murray Power
- Irish supporters enjoying the sunshine
- Sushil Nadkarni is run out
- Andrew White delighted at his run out
- The celebrations continue for Andrew White
- Huge appeal by Boyd Rankin
- Boundary for Steven Taylor
- Stephen Taylor deals with the short ball
- Ed Joyce congratulates Boyd Rankin
- Successful lbw appeal by Paul Stirling
- Trent Johnston appeals for lbw
- Boyd Rankin can't believe it's not been given
- More celebrations for Boyd Rankin
- Rankin delight as Taylor is bowled
- Ed Joyce congratulates Trent Johnston
- Boyd Rankin who took four wickets for nine runs
- Gary Wilson and Paul Stirling appeal for a stumping
- Cut by Khan
- George Dockrell congratulated after taking the catch
- Bhatti is bowled by Rankin
- Elmore Hutchinson top scored for USA with 29
- Crashed away by Elmore Hutchinson
- Elmore Hutchinson is bowled by Andrew White to complete a 64 run win for Ireland
- Hat trick of MOM awards for Boyd Rankin as he gets his third from David Jukes
- Match referee David Jukes with Paul Stirling