Sunday 11 December 2016

Agony for Sorensen as Ireland let victory slip from grasp

Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30

Max Sorensen (SPORTSFILE)
Max Sorensen (SPORTSFILE)

Max Sorensen was inconsolable in Dharamsala last night as his disastrous final over saw Ireland crash to a two-wicket defeat by Oman in a topsy-turvy thriller which left their World T20 hopes in India hanging by the slenderest of threads.

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After superb death overs from Kevin O'Brien and Boyd Rankin had taken The Boys in Green to the brink of victory, Sorensen was handed the task of bowling the last six deliveries with the Gulf side requiring 14 runs to win.

The Hills paceman made the worst possible start with a head-high no-ball that was gloved for four, immediately reducing the requirement to nine runs from six balls. Sorensen did grab the wicket of match-winner Amid Ali for 32 but another no-ball four gave Oman victory with two balls left.

If there is the slightest glimmer of hope to cling on to for Ireland it is that the margin of defeat was so small that bigger victories over Bangladesh tomorrow, and the Netherlands on Sunday, could yet see them in the mix to go through to the next phase on run rate.

"A defeat like that is hard to take, but to a large extent qualification is still in our hands," said captain William Porterfield.

"We've done a lot of good things over the past six weeks, we're still in a good space and we now need to come back strong against Bangladesh."

Squeeze

Porterfield wanted to lay down a marker at the start of their campaign after seeing Group A favourites Bangladesh squeeze past the Netherlands by eight runs in the earlier game and the indications were good as he and Paul Stirling added a brisk 48 for the first wicket.

Both openers were out for 29, Gary Wilson made the most of an early life to top score with 38, the O'Briens and Andrew Poynter, like everyone else, reached double figures at more than a run a ball before Andy McBrine weighed in with 10 from the final three deliveries to take Ireland to 154-5.

"At half-time we were quite pleased to get up to 150-plus because the ball was skidding through and keeping low for their spinners," Porterfield added.

"They got off to a good start with the bat but we clawed it back and would have been favourites going into those final five overs."

Defeat was particularly harsh on Kevin O'Brien who twice bowled Ireland back into contention, first by removing both openers with his naggingly accurate medium pace, and then producing a nerveless 18th over which began with Oman needing 23 from 18 balls.

Rankin followed through on the good work, hitting the top of leg stump with the first ball of the penultimate over and conceding just two runs off the bat. It should have been enough. It wasn't.

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