Cricket World Cup: Ireland’s dream simply bowled over
South Africa confirmed their position as one of the favourites to win the World Cup with a 131 runs victory over Ireland — who cannot now qualify for the quarter finals. Their tournament will end on Friday with a game against the Netherlands.
Again the strong Ireland batting line-up flattered to deceive although this time they had the excuse of being up against two of the fastest bowlers in the competition and two spinners who got help from a less than batsman-friendly track at Eden Gardens.
Morne Morkel, the world’s No 2 one-day bowler, removed both Ireland openers in his first two overs, Jacques Kallis, the fourth best all-rounder, followed up with the wicket of Niall O’Brien, off spinner Johan Botha needed only three balls to dismiss Ed Joyce and slow left armer Robin Peterson proved too good for Gary Wilson, Kevin O’Brien and Alex Cusack.
Needing 273 for victory, they were suddenly 107 for seven halfway through their innings and it was all over just eight overs later.
It all looked so promising halfway through the South Africa innings as Ireland reduced them to 117 for five, albeit with the help of two run outs which crowned a superb fielding performance.
But the team who beat India, despite the hosts being 267 for one with 10 overs left, just three days earlier, again showed their comeback qualities to add 155 for the loss of just two more wickets.
JP Duminy was denied a well deserved century by a brilliant running catch from Kevin O’Brien in the last over, but by then Ireland knew they had a mountain to climb against, what William Porterfield admitted was, the best bowling attack they have faced in the World Cup.
“You've got Morkel and Steyn up front, who are up there with the best because they have pace and bounce. It's something to contend with when you're opening the batting and then they've got quality spinners there as well, so yes, it’s a pretty formidable attack,” said the captain.
I wouldn't say (273) was necessarily too many, we weren’t too distraught at half-time. We just kept losing wickets out there.
“We were never ridiculously behind the run rate, with 20 overs to go we still needed about 140. We just couldn’t keep those wickets intact, but we’re slightly disappointed the way we ended this match in terms of the importance of it and especially after restricting South Africa after bowling and fielding pretty well.”
That first innings proved a roller coaster for Porterfield’s side as they failed to build on their highs but bounced back from their lows. It was the fifth over before they conceded a boundary and then Hashim Amla hit Boyd Rankin for a four and a six in the space of three balls.
Morne van Wyk, the former Instonians overseas player, was dropped by Kevin O’Brien and Paul Stirling, but then John Mooney and Porterfield produced fielding as good as anything in this World Cup to run out Graeme Smith and Kallis respectively.
Duminy and Colin Ingram’s partnership produced nine boundaries, yet only 41 runs were scored in the last five overs.
Unfortunately wickets fell regularly in the Ireland reply and the batsmen failed to get any momentum. The only meaningful partnership was 41 for the fifth wicket — the second best was 16 between Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien, the latter coming to the middle with Ireland requiring 222 runs to win, exactly the number required when the entered the fray against England.
There the similarity ended. This time Kevin was caught at long-off going for his third boundary. When Wilson followed two balls later, the end of Ireland’s World Cup journey was in sight.