Wednesday 25 April 2018

Cricket: Johnston's rise shaking up old order at World Cup

Gerrard Hughes

Trent Johnston has moved up to a best ever No 12 in the one-day international bowler rankings as Ireland continue to shake up cricket's old order at the World Cup.

Johnston took two early wickets against India in Bangalore on Sunday as Ireland pushed the hosts and favourites all the way before going down by five wickets. The Railway Union veteran limped off with an injury after bowling five overs, but the good news yesterday was that he should be fit for Friday's crunch game against the West Indies in Mohali.

Hospital scans showed no fracture or ligament damage to Johnston's knee, and Ireland are also hopeful of having Andre Botha available for a match that will make or break their campaign. Botha strained a groin while warming up for the England match.

Another bowler with something to smile about as the squad travelled to Chandigarh was George Dockrell, who dismissed two giants of the game -- Sachin Tendulkar and Indian captain MS Dhoni -- with his left-arm spin.

That would be a feat to treasure for any bowler -- how it must feel to an 18-year-old Dubliner who wasn't even born when Tendulkar made his World Cup debut in 1992 is hard to imagine.

After the batting heroics against England last week, it did Ireland's ever-growing reputation no harm that it was with the ball and in the field that they fought hardest to overcome India.

Dockrell, Johnston and Boyd Rankin all troubled India's big guns and the ground fielding was electric.

Ireland captain William Porterfield said: "We fought really hard when we came out after the break and threw ourselves around in the field -- I couldn't have asked for more.

"It wasn't easy defending a small target of 207 against such a strong batting side, but as long as we kept picking up wickets the chance of another win was always there."

Along with impressing the cricket world with their performances against England and India, Ireland have also seen a tangible gain by moving clear of Zimbabwe to claim outright 10th place in the latest ODI rankings. Such ratings normally count for little, but with the next World Cup in 2015 likely to be contested by only 10 teams, it is important for Ireland to attain and maintain as high a position as possible.

Meanwhile, another Irishman will be joining the World Cup party as England added Dubliner Eoin Morgan to their squad as a replacement for Kevin Pietersen, who has returned to London for a hernia operation.

Morgan pulled out of the original squad with a cracked finger that has now healed. Pietersen, who had been building a new opening partnership with captain Andrew Strauss at the tournament, did not join his team-mates on the journey from Chennai to Chittagong after it was decided he needed to undergo surgery on a troublesome hernia complaint.

Irish Independent

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