Ireland produced a stunning fightback to defeat Bangladesh by five runs in their final ICC World Twenty20 warm-up game at Moors Cricket Club in Colombo.
Chasing 165, Bangladesh had seemed on course for a facile win when they reached 103 for 2 in 10 overs, with Shakib Al Hasan in dominant mood. His dismissal for 52 by Nigel Jones proved to be a turning point as wickets fell in clusters. Shakib had struck 5 sixes and 3 fours in his 23 ball half century, taking 18 off George Dockrell's solitary over.
Kevin O'Brien (3-24) varied his pace well and in tandem with Nigel Jones (1-25) kept the pressure on Bangladesh. Still, with just 12 needed from the final two overs, The Tigers looked odds-on favourites. However a magnificent penultimate over from Alex Cusack saw him concede just two runs while picking up the wicket of the dangerous Mashrafe Mortaza.
Trent Johnston held his nerve to bowl an exemplary final over as Ireland sealed the five run win, in some way avenging the two last over defeats to Bangladesh in Belfast in July.
Paul Stirling was at his belligerent best in the Irish innings, as he smashed 71 from just 42 balls (5 sixes, 5 fours). He was particularly severe on Mahmudullah, hitting him for 3 consecutive sixes, and 24 in total from his only over.
At 110 for 1 the Irish looked destined for a total approaching the 200 mark, but Stirling's dismissal saw the run rate fall as the boundaries dried up - only 3 in the final nine overs, and none at all in the final five.
Ed Joyce made a stylish 39 from 36 balls (5 fours), but with Kevin O'Brien and Nigel Jones failing to score, Ireland's innings lost its impetus and they were slightly disappointed at the half way stage to have made what looked a slightly below par score of 164 for 6.
It proved enough though as the Irish held their catches - including stunning efforts by Nigel Jones and Alex Cusack.
Speaking after the game, a clearly delighted Paul Stirling said: "It's always nice to score a few runs which gives you confidence going into the tournament proper, so hopefully I'm peaking at the right time. We're playing great cricket as a team at the minute and it's a fantastic achievement to get four wins out of four and a massive confidence boost for the lads."
Was Stirling thinking of emulating Garfield Sobers, Ravi Shastri, Herschelle Gibbs and Yuvraj Singh by hitting 6 sixes in an over? "I was thinking of it after the first one but it didn't come off!"
On the Irish fightback to get the win, Stirling added:"We've a great team ethic and spirit, and we never know when we're beaten. They were heavy favourites today going into the final ten overs, but we managed to claw it back getting wickets at vital times. We managed to scrape through although I was always confident when they needed ten from the final over with Trent (Johnston) in control."
- Drying out the wicket
- The WAGS
- Rebecca Rolfe and Jayce Simmons
- Skipper shake hands
- Bangladesh won the toss and fielded
- Kevin O'Brien being interviewed
- Paul Stirling being interviewed
- Niall O'Brien
- Niall O'Brien being filmed
- Irish dressing room
- Alex Cusack, Pete Johnston and Ed Joyce
- Alex Cusack, Craig McDermott and Ed Joyce
- Alex Cusack, Trent Johnston and Craig McDermott
- The North West connection
- Bangladesh team huddle
- Paul Stirling batting
- Abdur Razzak bowls
- Boundary for Paul Stirling
- Runs for William Porterfield
- Swept to the boundary by Paul Stirling
- Runs for William Porterfield
- Huge appeal by Islam
- Shakib Al Hasan
- Paul Stirling top scored with 71
- Elias Sunny bowling
- Lofted to the boundary by Stirling
- Kids enjoying the game
- Swept by Paul Stirling
- Section of the crowd at the game
- Mushfiqur Rahim told to calm down
- Hit to long on by Paul Stirling...
- Great effort at the catch but in vain
- Another huge six by Paul Stirling
- Ireland applaud the half century
- Boundary for Ed Joyce
- Paul Stirling is bowled
- Another four for Ed Joyce
- Turned to leg by Ed Joyce
- Gary Wilson batting
- Guided away by Gary Wilson
- Ed Joyce scored 39
- Cut by Ed Joyce
- Gary Wilson is stumped
- Kevin O'Brien is bowled
- Runs for Trent Johnston
- Pulled by Ed Joyce...
- Elias Sunny takes the catch
- Niall O'Brien batting
- Niall O'Brien and Trent Johnston running between the wickets
- Cut away by Niall O'Brien
- Hooked by Tamim Iqbal
- Mohammed Ashraful
- Lofted by Ashraful..
- ..Nigel Jones runs back
- ..and Jones takes a stunning catch
- Trent Johnston happy
- Trent Johnston congratulated by George Dockrell
- Trent Johnston congratulates Nigel Jones
- Shakib Al Hasan frustrated
- Runs for Tamim Iqbal
- Paul Stirling bowling
- The off spin of Paul Stirling
- Alex Cusack goes for the catch...
- ,,and makes it..
- ,,and holds on as he hits the ground
- George Dockrell bowling
- William Porterfield and George Dockrell
- Six hit for Shakib Al Hasan
- Kevin O'Brien catches Shakib Al Hasan
- Gary Wilson catches Rahim
- Successful appeal by Kevin O'Brien
- Diving catch by George Dockrell off a no ball
- George Dockrell fields
- Another wicket for Kevin O'Brien
- Nigel Jones bowling
- Edged for four
- Bouncer to Mahmudullah
- Mahmudullah is bowled by Kevin O'Brien
- Kevin O'Brien celebrates the wicket
- Boundary for Zia Ur Rahman
- Hot work for Nigel Jones
- Alex Cusack celebrates the wicket
- Alex Cusack bowling
- Ziaur Rahman
- Trent Johnston celebrates his run out
- Handshakes at end of game
- Irish fans happy at the win