Ireland's T20 dreams crushed by Netherlands
Stunned. Shellshocked. Numb. Whatever adjective they wish to use, when Ireland's deflated World Twenty20 squad arrive back in Dublin tomorrow morning, the feelings will be the same.
Ireland were unbeaten in their last 15 matches against the Netherlands, dating back to before the 2007 World Cup, when Ireland arrived on the world stage, but it counted for nothing as William Porterfield's side made their exit from their sixth global event in spectacular, unforgettable fashion.
Indeed, make that record-breaking fashion. Needing to not only beat Ireland, but reach their target of 190 in 14.2 overs, the Dutch had nothing to lose and that was Ireland's undoing.
They were able to swing from the hip and how their big-hitting batsmen came off!
After six overs, they had scored 91 – a T20 powerplay record. In the innings they hit 19 sixes – another record. And along with Ireland's 11 sixes – they thought they had done well – it brought the game's tally to 30 maximums – again, a record.
It was sensational hitting to which the Ireland bowlers had no answer and left Porterfield trying to make sense of it all.
"It's very difficult to take, especially being in such good spirits at halfway," he said.
"I thought 190 was slightly above par, but the Dutch knew what they had to do and you have to give them credit. They struck the ball cleanly and cleared the ropes consistently.
"I actually though Kevin O'Brien and Tim Murtagh bowled particularly well, but it was a no-lose situation for the Dutch and difficult to defend against. No matter where we landed it, it kept disappearing out of the ground."
If he was do one thing differently in the same circumstances Porterfield admitted he would not have opened at both ends with slow bowlers – Andy McBrine was recalled in place of Max Sorensen and his first and only over went for 24.
"I thought spin was the way forward and thought we could pick up a few wickets, but they went hard from the off and it came off for them," he added.
Porterfield, focused solely on victory, said he didn't know until about the 10th over of the Dutch innings that they had to get the runs by the 15th over to reach the second phase, but although Ireland took a fourth wicket, Tom Cooper – 44 runs and six sixes after he was dropped by Ed Joyce – in the 12th over, Netherlands needed just 29 from 12 balls and the force was with them. They cruised home with three balls to spare and with an incredible 37 remaining in the match.
The Dutch batting pyrotechnics undeservedly overshadowed Ireland's own big hitting, in particular that of Andrew Poynter who can book himself a starting slot when Ireland return to action at Clontarf in May, against Sri Lanka.
Poyner hit eight boundaries – half of them sixes – in his thrilling 57 although O'Brien still upstaged him in their partnership of 101, finishing with 42 from just 16 balls.
Paul Stirling was passed fit, but even his presence could not prevent this remarkable defeat – one which, hopefully, will never be repeated.
Dutch courage was just too much for our boys to handle
By Ian Callender
The stark 20-word sentence in the ICC press release yesterday said it all: "Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe have no further matches left in the tournament and have no media commitments planned."
Yet, barely two hours earlier, the Ireland squad must have been planning for a flight to Chittagong today and four matches in eight days against Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand and England.
They had just scored an impressive 189 for four – their fifth highest T20 total and one that Ireland had conceded only twice in 66 previous matches.
But then it all went wrong. The team that had won their previous 10 games in this qualifying competition – effectively Ireland were still being asked to qualify for the Super 10s when the top eight Full Members enter the competition – fell at the final hurdle. When Ireland fall they, invariably, do so in style. But this was something else.
William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, is used to playing on a ground where sixes are more common than fours – or even twos and threes. The Ireland captain started his career playing at Donemana, one of the smallest grounds in Ireland, but that was with a club bowling attack. This was an international attack he had at his disposal in Sylhet.
Ok, Boyd Rankin has gone to England, Trent Johnston retired three months ago and John Mooney was sitting at home in Dublin watching the horror action unfold on television, but this was Ireland's first choice attack and to see them concede 190, not in 20 overs but in 13.5, was humiliating, bordering on the embarrassing.
It was fair enough to open the bowling with Paul Stirling – he had done it before with success, only two days earlier against UAE, but then to hand the ball to Andy McBrine (pictured), another Donemana boy, playing only his second World Cup game – remember, he was considered surplus to requirements in the UAE game and left out – seemed a odd choice, given that Dutch captain Peter Borren is one of the better players of spin bowling in Associate Cricket.
With big-hitting Stephan Myburgh at the other end, it was hardly surprising that McBrine's first and only over disappeared for 24 – 25 if you include the leg bye – and the Dutch, needing a seemingly impossible 14 runs an over were on their way. They never looked back.
Every bowler that Porterfield turned to was dealt with in the same manner and as the game careered out of control, on a day for Ireland's bowlers to hurriedly forget, the one consolation is that the Netherlands, an Associate nation, and not Zimbabwe, an imposter of a Full Member, will mix it with the 'big boys' in the Super 10s.
After a batting display like that even the most fervent Ireland supporter can only say: Netherlands, you deserve it.