Cricket: Porterfield upbeat despite Irish defeat
IRELAND must win four games on the bounce to be sure of reaching the Twenty20 World Cup finals -- starting with today's Group A clash against the USA -- after losing to bogey team Afghanistan by 13 runs on the first day of qualifiers in Dubai.
Captain William Porterfield counted as many as six missed chances in the field that allowed the Afghans to reach 139-8 from 20 overs and while Ireland were always up with the required run rate, the national side simply ran out of wickets.
Results in Twenty20 often hinge on one or two crucial moments and Ireland will look back to a dropped catch on the boundary that spilled over for a six and a full toss in the penultimate over of their chase.
Had Trent Johnston deposited the delivery into the stands -- as he looked to -- Ireland would have required nine to win from seven balls with three wickets in hand.
Instead, the former captain picked out deep mid-wicket and the end was nigh.
Porterfield said: "It is a setback for us -- but qualification is still very much in our hands. I can't explain what went wrong in the field -- it just wasn't up to our usual standards -- and some of the ways we got out need looking at too."
The captain struck the only two sixes of Ireland's innings off successive balls but when he was bowled for a top score of 35, his team-mates found odd ways to be dismissed, including the run out of non-striker Alex Cusack from a free hit.
While Ireland have now lost to Afghanistan in three games out of four in the past year, there was a big surprise in the opening match of Group A with Scotland losing by six wickets to the USA.
If Scotland and Ireland both lose again today in Abu Dhabi, it will render tomorrow's clash between the old rivals meaningless as both will have missed out on qualification for April's showpiece in the West Indies.
At Sports City Dubai (Ireland won toss): AFGHANISTAN 139-8 (20 overs) (T Johnston 2-18, A Botha 2-25) IRELAND 126 (19.2 overs) (W Porterfield 35, P Stirling 21). Afghanistan won by 13 runs.