One-Day International: William Porterfield became Ireland's third heaviest run scorer and the first player to score eight centuries for his country as the Irish won their 50th ODI in the grand manner.
They didn’t just beat Bangladesh at Stormont, by seven wickets, they hammered them and, led by their inspirational captain, who scored 108 from 116 balls with seven fours and three sixes, Ireland had five overs to spare when Alex Cusack hit the winning run.
Yet although the squad were entitled to celebrate long into the night — this was their first victory over a Full Member in an ODI since they beat the Tigers at the World Cup three years ago — the overriding emotion was merely of satisfaction. The job was only half done.
The teams return today for the second and final game in the series and Porterfield was last night expecting a tougher challenge.
“It was a big toss to win today and we put them under pressure from the start with the three early wickets, but they will come back hard at us and we know there is room for improvement,” he said.
“We dropped a couple of catches, so we will be out to eradicate that, but the team have been batting like that for a while now and it was great to carry on the form the lads showed in Holland.
“But it is only a fantastic result if we can make it 2-0 tomorrow. We need to win both games to stay above Zimbabwe in the (ODI rankings) table and that will be the target tomorrow.”
Ireland could not have wished for a better start with Trent Johnston, despite not being 100%, striking in his first over and Boyd Rankin, back leading the attack, then claiming the big wicket of the free-scoring Tamim Iqbal, caught at second slip by Paul Stirling.
When Johnston made it two wickets in 14 balls, Bangladesh were 28 for three and the victory over England at Bristol just five days earlier was a distant memory.
Yet, when Junaed Siddique, who went on to complete his first ODI century and Shakib Al Hasan were adding 107 for the third wicket, it was Ireland who were under pressure and Porterfield was wondering just how to make the breakthrough.
Johnston, at slip, and Cusack, in the deep, unusually put down straightforward catches to give Shakib a double reprieve before Stirling tempted the world’s No 1 all-rounder to hole out, immediately after bringing up his 50.
Having said that, Gary Wilson deserves the highest praise for the way he judged the catch and timed his jump to make a difficult catch at long-on look ridiculously easy.
It proved the turning point of the game.
From 135 for three in the 31st over, the tourists added just 99 in the remaining overs as Porterfield rung the bowling changes — he mad no fewer than 17 in the innings — and by the end only George Dockrell was wicketless.
The spectators, hidden behind the advertising boards, may have missed out on a Tamim assault at the start of the day but Porterfield and Stirling did not let them down.
The Ireland openers, who hit 80 off the first 11 overs against Australia last month, were 71 at the same stage yesterday and this time they went on.
Stirling followed Porterfield to his 50 off exactly the same number of balls, 51, but the drinks interval did for him, coming down the wicket four balls after the break and he was bowled.
But Cusack proved the steadying influence at No 3 and allowed Porterfield to play his full range of strokes before he was caught at mid-wicket just 27 runs from home.
Niall O’Brien came and went but his brother Kevin was there at the end, as he was so often at the World League in Holland last week, as Ireland made it a magnificent seven wins in a row.
Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup semi-final draw: The Hills or Waringstown v Merrion, Fox Lodge v Railway Union.
Games to be played on Saturday, August 7.