William Porterfield was at a loss to explain Ireland’s sub-standard performance in the opening game of the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Dubai Sports City yesterday.
Ireland have always risen to the occasion in opening games of major events, tying with Zimbabwe at the World Cup and beating Bangladesh in the finals of this tournament in England last year, but a catch was dropped of the first ball of the match and the team never picked themselves up after that as Afghanistan won by 13 runs, Ireland bowled out in 19.2 overs for just 126.
“We didn’t deserve anything from that game,” admitted Porterfield. “PC (Peter Connell) should have had a four-for with the amount of chances we missed. There must have been six or seven and they weren’t even half chances, they were just chances.
“We didn’t bowl badly but probably gave them 20 or 30 runs, dropped both openers in the first over and it went downhill after that. The way we have been preparing for the last two weeks was good but we were nowhere near that standard.
“There was no pressure out there. “We were going at seven an over (the required rate) throughout the innings but we kept losing wickets. Individuals have to go away and look at themselves and how they got out.”
The captain was speaking from a position of strength after top-scoring with 35 from just 23 balls having hit five of the nine boundaries in the innings, including the only two sixes. However, even his missed sweep could probably have been avoided and when Andre Botha followed two balls later, Karim Sadiq’s second victim of the over, Ireland needed solidity.
It could be said they didn’t take chances, with not a single boundary in the next eight overs. Unfortunately it didn’t halt the fall of wickets and O’Brien and Paul Stirling were both caught off badly mistimed shots, Alex Cusack was run out looking for a suicidal single and Gary Wilson’s chose to cut a ball which was far too close to him and he was caught behind.
An inside edge by Trent Johnston which ended the boundary famine at the start of the 16th over seem to indicate the luck was with Ireland and two overs later the former captain gave a return catch which was spilled.
With 20 runs wanted off three overs and John Mooney and Johnston having added 20, it was still Ireland’s to lose. But they did as Johnston pulled Mohammad Nabi straight to the deep mid-wicket fielder, Peter Connell gave his wicket away to get Mooney back in strike only for the North County player to miss the next ball and lose his middle stump.
Considering the missed chances, the bowlers stuck well to their task. Kevin O’Brien, playing his 100th game for Ireland, had to be taken off after two overs and George Dockrell’s third went for 23 including three maximums but the rest could not be faulted until they got the bat in their hands.
A win against the USA in Abu Dhabi today is now a must.