Belfast Telegraph

Cricket World Cup: Ireland need a miracle

By Ian Callender

Gary Wilson’s reaction to his controversial leg before decision and captain William Porterfield’s criticism of the verdict may have dominated the aftermath of Ireland’s loss to the West Indies yesterday.

But Ireland now know that even if they win their last two matches they will almost certainly make their exit from the World Cup without reaching the quarter finals.

Victories against South Africa on Tuesday and the Netherlands on Friday will take them to six points in Group B but even then they will need other results to go their way to have a chance of getting through on run-rate and it will be difficult to improve the latter against the South Africans, let alone beat them.

Porterfield was speaking before the end of Bangladesh’s game against England and said he would take stock afterwards, but he admitted: “It was a massive game and the mood in the dressing room wasn’t great.

“After losing to Bangladesh in the first game we were very disappointed and it’s the same today. But that’s the emotion of sport and you have to pick yourselves up for the next game.”

The Ireland team were on a downer, however, from the moment umpire Asoka de Silva refused to change his mind about his decision to give Wilson out, despite television replays showing the ball had pitched outside off stump.

When that came up on the big screen, Wilson asked for the review to be reviewed because, under the Laws of Cricket, that means a batsman should NOT be given out if he is playing a stroke but, despite initially enquiring of the third umpire (watching a television screen in the stands) if it was pad or bat first, de Silva sent Wilson on his way by saying that he had not played a stroke!

That decision left Ireland on 199 for six, in pursuit of West Indies’ 275 and with their in-form batsman gone, the tail folded quietly, bowled out with an over unused for 231.

The controversy overshadowed Ed Joyce’s return to form in Ireland colours.

On the day that Eoin Morgan scored 50 in his first World Cup match for England, the player who moved the other way hit 84 to give Ireland a realistic chance of victory.

When Joyce was bowled by Andre Russell in the 38th over, there was still much confidence in an Irish camp needing just 99

more and even after Kevin O’Brien was brilliantly caught by Kieron Pollard, diving forward at long-on, for five, Wilson and Alex Cusack looked to have every chance of seeing the underdogs home.

But then came the Wilson decision.

At the start of the innings, Paul Stirling failed to survive slow bowler Sulieman Benn’s first over and Porterfield on 11, after 22 balls, tamely surrendered to mid-on.

Niall O’Brien, with a new bat, again looked good but for the fourth time in four innings at this World Cup he got in and got out.

Ireland would not have been chasing 275 but for a trademark innings by Pollard.

After Devon Smith had hit a patient 107 from 133 balls against disciplined line and length Ireland bowling — they did not bowl a wide until the 34th over — the big-hitting Pollard took centre stage and was on course for the second fastest World Cup hundred when he holed out to long-off, six runs short and just five balls slower than Kevin O’Brien’s 50 balls stunner against England.

Pollard hit eight fours and five sixes after being missed by Wilson, running in from long-on, when he had made 19.

West Indies scored 55 from their five overs in the batting powerplay and then added another 78 from the last 10.

Alex Cusack was given the new ball in place of Trent Johnston, who failed his pre-match fitness test, and Wilson for Andrew White proved a shrewd selection in the other change from the team that lost to India.

It is harder to explain why Ireland’s front two spinners bowled only five overs.

Just to complete Porterfield’s miserable day, he was fined 20 per cent of his match fee because Ireland bowled their overs too slowly. The rest of the team were fined 10 per cent.

Belfast Telegraph

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