IRELAND will leave Sri Lanka today with heads held high after seeing their hopes of beating the West Indies and reaching the Super Eights stage of the World T20 ended by rain in Colombo last night.
It is unlikely that a total of 129-6 from 19 overs would have troubled Chris Gayle and his big-hitting colleagues, but the West Indies were unable to start their reply, and an abandoned game saw them claim second place in Group B on net run rate.
Ireland suffered a similar watery end to their last World T20 adventure in the West Indies two years ago when well-placed to beat England -- the eventual winners.
The 2012 campaign will be marked down as another small step along the road to being accepted by the game's elite, not only for the two warm-up wins over Zimbabwe and Bangladesh but also because the bigger nations are now clearly taking Ireland seriously.
"We couldn't have had a much better preparation," said Ireland captain William Porterfield. "We worked really hard but it was always going to be tough qualifying ahead of two of the favourites to win the tournament."
The batting performance against the West Indies yesterday was better than in last Wednesday's defeat by Australia, but still well short of the eight-plus an over needed to test the top performers in T20.
It began in now familiar fashion, with Porterfield falling to the first ball of the innings -- the fifth time he has done so this year. To be fair to the Ireland captain, a perfect inswinging yorker from Fidel Edwards would not have been easy to negotiate at the best of times.
Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce added 33 for the second wicket in even time before the first rain interruption, and when they both went quickly on the resumption, Niall O'Brien showed his class with 25 from 21 balls, including the first of four sixes in the Ireland innings.
The West Indies bowled with far more discipline than they had shown against Australia on Saturday, though, with spinner Sunil Narine proving as much a mystery to the Ireland batsman as he has to those in the Indian Premier League.
Veteran Trent Johnston, playing what could be his last major match for Ireland, also lifted a six in making a rapid 15 not out, but only a supreme optimist would have expected him and his fellow bowlers to defend a target of less than seven per over.