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Ireland's 21-game winning run comes to a shuddering halt at the hands of PNG

That was not part of the plan.

It was a rare off day for Ireland.
It was a rare off day for Ireland.
Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

IRELAND HAVE SUFFERED a shock defeat to Papua New Guinea in their World Twenty20 Qualifying Group A game in Stormont this morning.

John Bracewell’s side had won their three previous outings in the pool but came unstuck against a country who only gained One-Day International status last year.

It is Ireland’s first defeat in this World Twenty20 qualifying tournament in 22 games, a run which stretched back to March 2012.

It looked like the hosts had survived a major scare by taking wickets at regular intervals to curb Papua New Guinea’s chase of 124 but Norman Vanua struck three sixes in the penultimate over to see his side over the line to claim a famous win.

In the grand scheme of things, the result won’t have a major bearing on whether Ireland qualify for next year’s World Twenty20 in India but it was another wake-up call following the series defeat to Scotland last month.

Wins over Namibia, USA and Nepal had put William Porterfield’s side in a commanding position in Group A as their dominance at this level was underlined. But they’ve yet to fire on all cylinders during this tournament, as today’s result suggests.

Norman Vanua celebrates hitting a six and winning the match Norman Vanua played an incredible knock to win the game for his side. Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Porterfield held Ireland’s innings together with a half-century but his decision to bat first, in a game starting at 10am local time in overcast conditions, was questionable.

Ireland never got going in the face of a spirited PNG outfit and stuttered their way to 123-9 after their 20 overs with Porterfield left unbeaten on 59.

The bowlers then managed to wrestle back the ascendancy and appeared to be heading for another victory but Vanua had other ideas.

The PNG batsman clubbed 28 off just 10 balls, including those three maximums of John Mooney, to spark joyous scenes for the visitors as their chances of qualification received a major boost.

It’s likely this result will prove to be a minor blot on Ireland’s copybook but they will be bitterly disappointed to suffer defeat in the manner they did – particularly considering the high standards they now set themselves and the expectation on them from the public.

Nonetheless, you can’t read too much into one result and there is little time to reflect on a poor day’s work.

Ireland v PNG - ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 PNG enjoyed their day in the sun. Source: Seb Daly/ICC / SPORTSFILE

With the top three from each group securing a berth in India, there is little to sweat about for Ireland but they’ll be determined to make amends on Friday against Hong Kong.

Full scorecard and tournament results can be viewed here.

Originally published at 13.52

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