For the second successive World Twenty20, Ireland’s tournament ended in the rain, but this time they could have no complaints.
In Guyana two years ago, Ireland were on the verge of an upset victory against England, having restricted the eventual champions to 120 for eight, but here in Sri Lanka, they could manage only 129 for six against West Indies in 19 overs. The Windies innings never started in a downpour and their point for the abandoned game was enough to put them through and send Ireland home.
Ireland's total was six more than they totalled in their first match against Australia, in one over fewer, but one suspected not nearly enough to trouble a formidable batting unit among the favourites to succeed England as champions this year — especially as Ireland had to go into the match without their strike bowler.
Boyd Rankin was the one player who failed to recover from a bug which swept through the squad on Sunday and was ruled out just before the toss which William Porterfield lost and he was sent into bat.
It was the nightmare scenario for Porterfield and, embarrassingly for the Ireland skipper, he again failed to survive the first ball.
On Wednesday, it was a short ball from Shane Watson which undid him, this time it was a yorker from Fidel Edwards which ripped through his defence and for the fifth time in 2012, Ed Joyce was walking out to face the second ball of the innings.
Joyce started positively with two fours in his first four balls but there would be only seven more in the next 10 overs and not one in the last eight, although at least they were punctuated by four sixes. The second and fourth wicket stands both added 33 in 32 balls but just when Ireland appeared to be accelerating a wicket would fall, and they were back to square one.
Every batsman got into double figures but not one got past 25; all faced at least 10 balls, not one more than 22. It was consistency but not the type to win a Twenty20 match.
Ireland counterpart William Porterfield bemoaned the stop-start nature of the game and was defiant afterwards, insisting that he would have been happy to defend 140. He also insisted an Ireland win was by no means out of reach, if they had played the remaining 19 overs.
“It was a slower pitch than last week and with pace off the ball it could have suited us. A couple of early wickets could have made it interesting,” he contended.
“We have to make starts count but we were just picking up momentum when the first rain came. Joyce and Stirling had just taken 10 off the fifth over and had a good thing going. We were off for 55 minutes and it was hard to go back out and start again. Losing Joycey’s wicket straight after the restart didn’t help but we were targeting 140 and that would have given us a chance.”
The fact that West Indies were able to leave out Dwayne Bravo, however, underlined the strength of their team and it is unlikely that a line-up featuring Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Russell, to name but four, would have been content with 13 boundaries in 19 overs.
But as Porterfield added: “We’ll never know.”
Now Windies captain Darren Sammy is confident they can despatch England although he played down their chances of winning the tournament.
Sammy said: “This is the Super Eight and they are very important games but we do fancy our chances against England.
“A strong point for us is the belief we have in the dressing room that once we play to our full potential the quality we have we could go all the way. But we have got to take it one game at a time.”
Pointing to the team's bowling strength, Sammy singled out Sunil Narine and believes he could be pivotal against England.
He said: “I think that will be the first time England will be playing him when the wicket offers him some assistance. He can be a handful so we'll look and see what happens.”