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Oh man! Horror show for Ireland as World Twenty20 campaign begins with shock defeat

The Boys in Green’s hopes of progressing to the next phase are already hanging by a thread.

Gary Wilson shows his frustration on a forgettable day for Irish cricket.
Gary Wilson shows his frustration on a forgettable day for Irish cricket.

OF ALL THE memorable days in Ireland’s recent cricketing history, this will undoubtedly go down as the darkest as Oman pulled off one of the great shocks.

Ireland’s World Twenty20 campaign is all but over before it ever got going as John Bracewell’s side endured a horror show to slump to a two-wicket defeat under the lights in Dharamsala.

Oman, playing in their first major tournament, played without fear and held their nerve at the death to seal a famous win for their nation.

For Ireland, all the pre-tournament concerns came true as the Boys in Green were found wanting in every department by the gulf nation.

After hauling themselves back into the contest with a series of quick wickets, Ireland then blew their chance to get out of jail as Max Sorensen leaked 14 runs in the final over to hand Oman victory.

It leaves Ireland’s hopes of qualification for the Super 10 phase in tatters with fixtures against group favourites Bangladesh and Netherlands to follow.

“We were confident at half-time,” captain William Porterfield said afterwards. “The last four or five overs with the ball has let us down.

“It’s more of a mental thing now that we have to win the last two games to give ourselves a chance.”

After posting 154-5, Ireland were in a strong position at the interval and would have been confident of defending that total but their bowling attack was taken apart in the early overs.

India World T20 Cricket Ireland Oman Oman's Khawar Ali took the game to Ireland with great success. Source: Ashwini Bhatia

Zeeshan Maqsood, who had earlier taken a stunning catch to dismiss Paul Stirling, broke the back of the chase as he bludgeoned the ball to the boundary with pure disdain.

He and Khawar Ali put on an opening stand of 69 as Ireland’s bowlers wilted in the face of the onslaught before Kevin O’Brien sparked a fightback.

The hero of Bangalore in 2011 struck twice to halt Oman’s momentum and Andrew McBrine and Sorensen took two wickets apiece as the complexion of the game changed.

But there were twists and turns aplenty as Tim Murtagh’s third over, the 17th of the innings, was hit for 20 and Oman found themselves in the driving seat again.

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It proved to be the defining moment of the game, and potentially Ireland’s tournament, while questions will be asked of the decision to give Sorensen the final over.

He delivered five of the worst balls imaginable after Boyd Rankin had tilted the balance back in Ireland’s favour with two wickets.

However, Sorensen proceeded to bowl an above waist-high full toss, which was dispatched four, with his first delivery and then followed that with another full toss which went through Niall O’Brien to the boundary.

With just one team from Group A securing a place in the tournament’s ‘main draw’, Ireland go into Friday’s game against Bangladesh knowing they need to win both of their games – and even still that’s unlikely to be enough.

India World T20 Cricket Ireland Oman Oman celebrate their famous win. Source: Tsering Topgyal

While the blame can be leveled at the bowling display, the batting unit must take equal responsibility.

There was very little evidence of the ‘powerful’ approach coach John Bracewell had promised in the build-up to the tournament as Ireland’s top and middle order, devoid of any confidence, stuttered their way through the 20 overs.

Stirling apart, none of the Irish batsmen played with any semblance of intent and the deficiencies which have undermined the team’s efforts in this format over the last 12 months were once again exposed.

None of the Irish batsman played with the same freedom as Aamer Ali, who got his side across the line with a 32-run blitz.

The lower-order batsman struck five boundaries and a six and although he was dismissed by Sorensen with three runs left to get, he had done enough to ensure Oman enjoyed a debut to remember.

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Ryan Bailey

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