Shock defeat won't worry Irish
IT was a case of "no panic, it was only a warm-up" for Ireland after they crashed to an 18-run defeat against Papua New Guinea in Dubai in their last game ahead of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers.
At least this year the shock defeat did not come in the first match of the tournament – a common theme with Ireland at global events – but Namibia, their conquerors in the opening match of last year's qualifiers, lie in wait.
One comfort for Ireland is that tomorrow's game, indeed all their games in thecompetition, will be in Abu Dhabi, 80 miles from the ICC Global Academy grounds in Dubai where Ireland's horror results have taken place. They are unbeaten in the UAE capital.
With Trent Johnston, Max Sorensen and Alex Cusack all rested, Ireland went into the game three front-line bowlers down, but captain William Porterfield chose not to call on John Mooney, preferring instead an over from Donemana's Andy McBrine, which went for 14, and a second spell by Stuart Thompson after two overs with the new ball cost 24.
Whether Mooney could have restrained the PNG total – in which Geraint Jones, an England's Ashes hero from 2005, playing for the country of his birth, top scored – we will never know but on a good pitch it was by no means out of sight, especially as Ireland were gifted three first over wides.
But unlike Tuesday, when Porterfield went on and on, this time he was out for 24 and four other players were caught on the boundary, including top scorer Gary Wilson for 36.
Papua New Guinea 161-8 (G Jones 39, K Pala 36; K O'Brien 3-31, P Stirling 2-18) Ireland 143-7 (G Wilson 36, K O'Brien 30, W Porterfield 24, N O'Brien 23; J Reva 3-25, N Vanua 2-27). PNG won by 18 runs