AUSTRALIA and Ireland sit side by side in the Twenty20 world rankings, but there was a gulf in class between them in Colombo yesterday after the Aussies won by seven wickets with plenty to spare.
Ireland's ambition to play all forms of the game in the top echelon means they need to impress in international tournaments like this. But that desire can add as much pressure as it can inspire, something that appeared to happen when their top order froze against Australia's aggressive pace bowlers.
"We let ourselves down, we're better than that," said William Porterfield, Ireland's captain. "We didn't give ourselves a chance after losing four early wickets in the Powerplay. We've played well recently against a couple of good sides so we're disappointed the way we went out there."
Porterfield added: "We want to improve our status and get on the Future Tours Programme but that means nothing without putting in performances on the day, and we didn't do that."
Opening the bowling, Australia's Shane Watson claimed three wickets for 26 and returned to hammer a 30-ball 51 as Australia chased down the 124-run target with 29 balls to spare.
Watson removed Irish captain William Porterfield with the first ball of the match and later broke a dangerously-looking fifth wicket partnership between the O'Brien brothers, Niall (20) and Kevin.
Ireland, having elected to bat first, never really recovered after losing their skipper but managed to post 123 runs for seven wickets largely because of the 52-run fifth wicket stand by the O'Brien brothers.
Kevin O'Brien was the top scorer for Ireland with 35 runs off 29 balls with five boundaries before being dismissed off a Watson delivery.