Having written an article about the minnows effectively cheapening the World Cup, not being good enough and forcing us to sit through meaningless matches while we wait for the Super 8’s and the real tournament to begin, St Patrick’s day brought about two upsets by smaller teams against two of the fancied teams for this years cup. And a smack in the face for me. Bangladesh produced a very professional and accomplished victory against an Indian team that many felt could go all the way this year. On this performance they wont. Batting first India struggled up front and continued to lose wickets at regular intervals thanks to some very good bowling by the Bangladesh bowlers. Only Ganguly with 66 and Yuvraj with 47 offered any real resistance as India were bowled out in the final over for 191 Mortaza was impressive in picking up 4/38 and was ably supported by Razzak with 3/38 and the experienced Rafique with 3/35. The young Bangladesh batsman showed great stroke play and timing as they set about knocking the runs off. Playing shots that would have made Ganguly and Sehwag proud, they took the attack to the Indians ensuring that they could comfortably tick of the runs against an increasingly frustrated and down hearted Indian attack. With a dashing start from by Tamim Iqbal, who scored 51 of 53 balls, and the more cautious Rahim who anchored the team with an unbeaten 56 from 107 balls, the run chase was set up nicely for the remaining batsmen to work the ball around and reach the target with 5 wickets and an over to spare. Even though they are a test status nation this was still a huge surprise and has set up Bangladesh with a good chance of making the Super 8’s. Being a test playing nation Bangladesh were always capable of causing an upset in this World Cup, particularly with the new pitches and small boundaries at most of the grounds. So a win for Bangladesh against India was a surprise, but could not compare to the upset in the other match played today. On St Patrick’s day Ireland produced the best result of their cricketing history by defeating Pakistan and so remaining unbeaten after two games. Putting Pakistan into bat on a pitch that had more grass then was expected, Ireland struck early and continued to do so throughout the Pakistani innings, eventually bowling them out for 132 in the 46th over. Kamran Akmal top scored with 27 and the wickets were shared by all the bowlers. Rankin was the most successful with 3/32 but it was Botha who was the most impressive taking 2/5 off 8 overs including 4 maidens.It could have been a lot worse for Pakistan as Ireland contributed 29 runs to the Pakistan total through extras. With the amount of grass on the pitch, coupled with rain during the lunch interval and overcast conditions, Pakistan would have hoped to blast the Irish out for a low total. Ireland though set about cautiously, and at times nervously, but well lead by Niel O’Brian, with a well constructed 72, they edged closer and closer to their historic win. Kevin O’Brien saw them home with a slow, but well needed, 14 not out. In my earlier article where i stated that the minnows had no place at the World Cup I did suggest that the only real upset could come from the Irish beating Zimbabwe. Having tied with Zimbabwe they would have been given little chance against Pakistan. In reflection however if any of the fancied teams were going to come unstuck it would have been Pakistan, who’s unpredictability means that they are well capable of beating Australia one day and losing to a local club team the next. The win now means that Ireland are virtually through to the Super 8’s at their first World Cup and their fans can expect a longer then expected holiday. Their fairytale continues, and they wont make it past the Super 8’s and more than likely wont win a single game in the next phase, but having exceeded even their own expectations they have certainly brought the World Cup to life and given the minnows the freedom to dream, and me to eat humble pie. This St Patrick’s day in the Caribbean is certainly one that belongs to the Irish.
St Patrick Delivers Humble Pie