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     Volume 6 Issue 15 | April 20, 2007 |

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The Luck of the Irish

Nader Rahman

When Ireland beat Pakistan on St. Patrick's Day it was a headline writers dream. The puns did not stop, at the same time on the same day Bangladesh went about dismantling India writers could not stop themselves from crediting the victory to the luck of the Irish. Now seemingly the rub of the green is firmly with the Irish.

Much was made of the fact that the game between Ireland and Bangladesh should rightly have been between the heavyweights of Sub Continental cricket India and Pakistan. It was not to be the case as the plucky Irish took on Bangladesh in what was dubbed the battle of the basement dwellers. It was harsh to call Bangladesh a basement dweller or even a minnow after their thumping victories over India and the much vaunted South Africans. But as they hindsight is 20/20 and now with a loss to Ireland we are still hanging on to our tag of underachievers and minnows more tightly than ever.

The game itself was a sloppy affair as Ireland won the toss and elected to bat first. On a pitch that offered pace and bounce without much swing the Bangladeshi opening bowlers restricted if not troubled the Irish openers. After an opening partnership of 92 in 25 overs neither side held much of and advantage, but in the mental department of the game the Irish had the upper hand. The Bangladeshi fielding was scrappy to say the least, there were dropped catches and numerous slip ups that resulted in at least a dozen extra runs. If anything the fall of the first wicket broke the shackles off the Irish innings. They started to play a little more freely as they lost two more quick wickets. Then Kevin O'Brien played a gem of an innings as he mixed big shots with deftly taken singles, many of which came as a result of the chronic misfielding by the Bangladesh team. Their opener Porterfield played a subdued yet mature innings as he compiled 85 runs of 136 balls. Trent Johnston the Irish captain hit a quick fire 30 of 23 balls to take them to a very respectable 243 as the Bangladeshi bowling fell apart at the death.

Bangladesh was clearly on the back foot as they now faced a tricky target of 244 against a spirited Irish side with momentum behind them. The chase started off meekly enough as the tall Irish medium pacer Rankin got awkward bounce off the wicket to trouble the Bangladeshi openers. Shariar Nafees was the first to fall as one down Aftab Ahmed took the game to the Irish by playing some beautiful if reckless cricket. He finally played one shot too many as he eventually got out to Botha. Sakib was unlucky to be run out backing up too far as the wheels came off the Bangladeshi innings. Ashraful played beautifully as he and Tamim took the total to 93 in quick time. Then Tamim fell to another rash shot after just having hit a boundary, he was out for the umpteenth time charging down the wicket to Johnston, whose celebration jig has now become famous. Ashraful fell soon after and the game was already out of Bangladesh's reach.

The game was done and dusted long before the final wicket fell. The Bangladeshi fielding was deplorable while the bowling lacked bite. And absolutely nothing could be said of our pathetic batting, too many bight shots, not enough substance. It was eventually an amateur performance against an amateur team. The tigers lost to the leprechauns as the myth of our cricketing consistency still fights to see light.

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