Cricket: Rahman runs riot in Belfast
IRELAND were strangled by spin and soundly beaten by Bangladesh in Belfast last night, losing the first of a three-match RSA Series of T20 internationals by a massive 71 runs.
Any thought that the visitor's batsmen might struggle in alien conditions disappeared as quickly as the leather went to the boundary and a stunning sequence of four sixes in four balls helped lift Bangladesh to an imposing 190-5.
Trent Johnston was his usual probing self, but no Ireland bowler was able to exert a grip as Shakib al Hasan made 57 and Ziaur Rahman did real damage with five maximums in his 40 not out from 17 balls.
Ireland needed a positive response and got it -- but not from the expected source. While Paul Stirling played himself in, it was William Porterfield who launched a boundary blitz to take the home side to 25-0 after two overs.
Bangladesh then introduced spin -- their trump card -- and Porterfield was stumped for 26.
Ireland's main hope Stirling followed him to the Stormont pavilion in the next over for four, beaten by a direct hit as he attempted a single to mid-off.
Niall O'Brien lifted the hopes of a crowd of around 1,500 with a flicked six over long leg, but there was not much more to cheer as the home side slipped from a decent platform of 56-2 to 72-8 -- a collapse started and ended by Elias Sunny who took 5-13.
Gary Wilson's 41 not out gave a final score of 119-8 some respectability, but when skipper Porterfield sits down to analyse the defeat, he will know that Ireland at no time had their opponents under pressure after asking them to bat.
In the absence of George Dockrell, who will surely be in the line up for tomorrow's second game, Stirling was the only spin option and he couldn't find the one really tight over that might have turned the tide.
Boyd Rankin's final over was his best, conceding a mere two runs and taking a wicket for figures of 1-30 on his return from injury, but almost immediately after Bangladesh's fifth-wicket pair smashed four sixes in a row.