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Niall O'Brien World Cup Diary: Being caught in a South African's armpit summed up a difficult day

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Ireland's Niall O'Brien in action during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool B match against South Africa in Canberra.

Ireland's Niall O'Brien in action during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool B match against South Africa in Canberra.

AFP/Getty Images

Ireland's Niall O'Brien in action during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool B match against South Africa in Canberra.

It's never easy to sit down in a dressing room and find positives when you’ve been beaten by 200 runs but we know we came up against one of the best sides in the world today.

It’s not a case of moral victories or anything like it – this team has come too far for that sort of thing – but I felt we showed character given the situation we found ourselves in chasing 400 and being 48-5.

The easy thing in that case is for the next guys in to start throwing their bat at silly shots and ducking out of the way when the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are coming in bowling at your ribs and neck at 140kmph.

To their credit, the lads didn’t do that. Kevin batted well again and would have deserved another 50 but he fell short and Andrew Balbirnie showed why he’s so well regarded with a tough half-century.

Max Sorensen and George Dockrell then put together a partnership which could prove crucial to our run rate at the end of the group. The main job of the bowlers isn’t to stand with a bat in their hand getting pelted at the end of an innings but they took a few blows and gave a few back of their own for good measure. It’s another example of the character that this team has.

It’s that type of small fightback which meant we could go into the dressing room, have a strong chat and leave everything in there so that we can look towards Hobart against Zimbabwe on Saturday.

It’s not just a case of ignoring things that went wrong but, at the same time, you can’t spend your time dwelling on a defeat like that because it isn’t games against the likes of South Africa on which we’re going to be judged. If we beat Zimbabwe, this defeat will be forgotten and we’ll move on with our aim of getting to the quarter-finals.

We were out-played and out-classed by one of the best teams in the world but, at the halfway stage, we had a plan to put ourselves in a position to win the game.

We didn’t set out to bat out overs and aim for damage limitation with our run-rate but when you find yourself in the position that we did after 10 overs, the players who were left had to use their heads and they did that well.

Needing to score at over eight an over from the start of the innings is daunting but we had planned to leave ourselves somewhere in the region of 150 to get with around 10 overs to go. To get to that point though, we needed the same type of start we got against the West Indies which, unfortunately, we weren’t able to get.

I was happy enough with the way that I was playing when I got out there. I took on Steyn in the few balls that he bowled to me and played a couple of good shots.

My wicket was one of those shots where it was there to cut and I threw everything at it and nicked behind to what I thought was a superb catch by their wicket-keeper.

It was only when I got into the dressing room that Ed Joyce told me it had been deflected off the ‘keeper’s gloves and ended up in the armpit of Hashim Amla. I’ve been out many different ways over the years but being caught in somebody’s armpit was a first.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the same type of fortune with Amla himself and Ed was disappointed to drop him when he was only on 10. It was one of those chances that you hope just stick in the hands but everybody’s dropped catches before and you just hope that the batsman gives you another chance soon.

I know from personal experience that, usually, you get another opportunity but Amla didn’t give us a sniff for a long time after that and put on a masterclass. You really appreciate how good he is at close quarters but, given that he ended up as man of the match, it would have been great for us to see an awful lot less of him.

Andrew was the highlight of the batting but I thought John Mooney’s first spell with the ball was excellent and Andy McBrine was superb against some of the best players around. In this tournament, any spinner taking two for 63 will be relatively happy but when those two are Amla and AB de Villiers it’s definitely a good bowling day.

There were some positives but, from the team perspective, it wasn’t a good day. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom because it’s still very much in our hands make the quarter-finals Two wins from three is a good foundation, it’s up to us to build on it now against Zimbabwe.

Online Editors