IRELAND'S hopes of causing an early upset at the World T20 in Sri Lanka were dashed by a ruthless Australian side that raced to victory in the Premadasa Stadium yesterday with seven wickets and nearly five overs to spare.
From the moment captain William Porterfield lifted the first ball of the game into the hands of long-leg, Ireland were playing catch-up, and a battling total of 123-7 proved nowhere near enough to claim another famous scalp.
The margin of the defeat means that Ireland must hope that Australia also beat the West Indies -- the other team in Group B -- or they could be all but eliminated on run-rate before Monday's second match against the big-hitters from the Caribbean.
"It was a pretty good pitch and we just didn't put enough runs on the board," Porterfield said. "When you lose three or four quick wickets you always make if difficult for yourselves and we were 40-45 runs short.
"We're really disappointed because we'd done everything right in the build-up to the game and beaten some good teams. We backed ourselves to make a good score but it didn't happen.
"To have any chance of defending a total like that you have to take early wickets and we didn't do that -- but we can't blame the bowlers, it was the batsmen who didn't get enough runs."
Porterfield chose to bat on a sweltering afternoon in Colombo only to fall first ball for the second time this year against Australia, and with Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson also going cheaply, Ireland were quickly 33-4.
The O'Brien brothers restored some pride with a partnership of 52 from 43 balls before both fell in the space of four balls -- Niall missing a leg-side swipe on 20 and Kevin, after hitting five fours, edging behind for a top score of 35.
The Ireland tail wagged sufficiently to post a target of just more than a run per ball but the contest was as good as over when openers Shane Watson and David Warner plundered 31 from the third and fourth overs of the chase.
George Dockrell picked up Warner -- caught in the deep -- but even Trent Johnston's running-out of Watson for 51 and an lbw in Kevin O'Brien's first over didn't slow progress towards an Aussie victory that was achieved from the first ball of the 16th over.