Ireland panicked during Pakistan defeat, admits Simmons
If the Ireland players felt disappointment at 'only' tying the first one-day international against Pakistan last week, it was nothing compared to the feeling of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in the second game between the teams on Sunday.
National Coach Phil Simmons, speaking after the first day of Ireland A's three-day game in Canterbury was abandoned without a ball bowled and for the first time since Pakistan's comeback two wickets win, admitted the players were devastated by the defeat.
"When we have a team 17 for four and 133 for seven, chasing 230, we expect to win, against anybody," said Simmons.
"We just needed to keep our cool and do the basics right in those last six overs but we didn't get it right. If we had got it right and they played good shots, well, then we lost, but we didn't get it right."
The reasons may take a while longer to fathom.
He added: "We haven't had a chance to sit down and assess what went wrong because many of the boys had to leave that evening but it was probably a case of panic setting in. It happens to the best of teams. I wasn't too hard on them. But next time we have to hit our right areas," added the coach who praised the team for getting so close in the first game, which Pakistan were winning until the very last ball.
"We didn't lose the first one. We batted well and could have sneaked it at the end. It turned out to be a tie but you take the good things out of that. On Sunday we lost the game in the last six overs, having played well throughout the match until then."
Although 230 appeared to be around 20 below a par total, Simmons didn't blame the batsmen.
"The way they (Pakistan) bowled, especially in the first 25 overs, we batted really well. They came much harder than on Thursday and Niall (O'Brien) and Ed (Joyce) had to fight hard, first not to get rolled and we did well to get to 230. Yes, we had a big mistake (losing four quick wickets) after Kevin got out but 230 was still a fighting score and we showed that," he said.
"Two years ago at 10 or 20 for two we wouldn't have made 230. We would have been out for 140-150. So the batsmen are working hard and knowing what they have to do to get up to a competitive score. We showed that in the games.
"The good thing is, in the last four games, one of the top six is coming up with the big score to get us where we want to be. That's the biggest plus."
was delighted to hear his Pakistan counterpart Dav Whatmore and captain Misbah-ul-Haq both say that Ireland are ready to step up to the next level.
"It's good to hear them talk about us in that way, it's how we judge and see ourselves. They obviously realise we can play and win games at that level and it's great for them to be happy with the fact they played against a strong enough team that put them under pressure and that should have beaten them.
"That's what we take from it and next time we're going to beat them," he said.
The Ireland coach also explained why James Shannon was given his ODI debut on Sunday ahead of the experience of John Mooney or Andrew White.
"We didn't think that John had enough cricket in the last few weeks. He was banned for the inter-pro games and that didn't do him any favours.
"We wanted someone to hit the ball over the fence, because the wicket was a lot greener than on Thursday when we thought Whitey might have had a chance to bowl.
"This time we didn't think we would need him (to bowl) and Shannon can hit the ball over the boundary easier than Whitey."
Unfortunately it was two Pakistanis who were hitting the ball over the boundary at the end.