ICC T20 World Cup 2014: Ireland v Zimbabwe

Ireland’s cricketers have opened their ICC World Twenty20 2014 campaign in Bangladesh with a win over the nominal test-playing Zimbabwe.  But it nearly didn’t happen.

Batting first, Zimbabwe set a daunting total of 163 for 5 wickets from their 20 overs.  As the ICC match report noted, Ireland had never scored more than 156 to win a T20 International.  But it could have been worse.

Needing 164 runs to win, Stirling and Porterfield set about the Zimbabwe bowlers to make an opening partnership of 80 from 50 balls – with Stirling going on to make 60 runs from 34 balls.  When his wicket fell, 100 for 2 from 10.3 overs, Ireland still looked comfortable.

But it took another 7.2 overs for Ireland to reach 150.

The 18th over was when Kevin O’Brien pressed the accelerator, making 15 runs from 4 deliveries, and a single for Ed Joyce, before O’Brien was caught at long-off.

At 157 for 5 with 12 balls left, needing just 7 runs to win, it still looked good for Ireland.

Only 3 runs were scored in the penultimate over and it was squeaky bum time.

It got worse when, after 2 singles from the first two balls of the last over, Ed Joyce was bowled by an inswinging yorker.  Then Sorensen was run out next ball having only arrived at the crease.

2 balls and 2 runs needed.  A low full toss was knocked away for a single and Ireland needed 1 run to win from the last ball of the match with the scores tied.

Dara Ó Briain was inventing some new rules for the competition…

From the cricinfo text commentary

19.6 Panyangara to Cusack, 1 bye, they scramble through with a bye and Taylor fails to hit the target! Alex Cusack tries to force away a yorker outside off, he missed and so did Taylor with his under-arm throw to the striker’s end, Thompson collided with a fielder as he completed the bye and by then Cusack was safe at the other end

The players looked a little bewildered for a few seconds, especially Thompson after the collision. Taylor knew all he had to do was hit the target as Thompson was still miles away.

A nerve-wracking game but Ireland will know they should never have got it this close. Some of those shots will be revisited. But credit to Panyangara for coming back after getting pasted in his first over.

Ireland 164 for 7 from 20 overs.  Ireland win by 3 wickets.  Next up for Ireland, the United Arab Emirates on 19th March at the same venue.

Dara Ó Briain again

And a final word

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