Monday 23 April 2018

Praise for Ireland despite whitewash

IRELAND were lifted by encouraging words from Bangladesh coach Richard Pybus after suffering the disappointment a second nail-biting defeat by the Tigers in Belfast on Saturday and a 3-0 sweep of the RSA series of T20 internationals.

A one-run loss on Friday night was followed by a last-ball thriller at Stormont with Kevin O'Brien's shy missing the stumps as Bangladesh's ninth-wicket pair scrambled a single to snatch a two-wicket win.

Those wishing to dismiss Ireland's ambitions will point to the whitewash as evidence that they are not ready to join the world's elite while others -- including Pybus -- will look at the fine print and see a different story.

"I don't think the scoreboard at 3-0 is a reflection of how the series was played," the South African said. "The last two games went down to the wire -- which is a better indication of where the two teams are at.

"We were fortunate it went our way in those games. The Ireland seam bowlers were very tidy -- they out bowled us in that area -- but our spin quartet gave us some control."

Ireland coach Phil Simmons pointed to Ireland's lack of experience against the bigger Test teams as one reason that they were unable to sneak over the line in the close finishes.

Economical spells by George Dockrell, Paul Stirling and O'Brien appeared to be enough to defend Ireland's total of 140-8 in the final game before a blitz of four maximums in six balls left the visitors needing five to win from the last over.

Trent Johnston took a wicket and held the Tigers to four runs from his first five balls but with the scores level and the field in, O'Brien's run out attempt from mid-on just missed and Ireland were denied a tie.

With such fine margins, perhaps the absence of strike bowler Boyd Rankin with a tight quad muscle was the difference between defeat and a 2-1 victory. The Warwickshire seamer will be a key player in the World T20 finals in Sri Lanka in September and was not risked as he continues his recovery from a foot injury.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport