Ireland’s World Cup adventure ended with a chastening experience as they crumbled for 77 against Sri Lanka in Grenada. Farveez Maharoof took three wickets in an over and Muttiah Muralitharan bamboozled the middle order before Sri Lanka raced home in 10 overs, leaving everyone with an early lunch.
All ten Ireland wickets fell for 49 in 20 overs - 23 of those coming in a final-wicket frolic - as Maharoof and Muralitharan shared eight victims. A mark of the ruthlessness shown by the Sri Lankans is that this was an even more destructive performance than the Australians managed.
But Ireland’s campaign has been highlighted by their spirit and excitement. They remained buoyant until the end - albeit an early one - as Boyd Rankin and Dave Langford-Smith finished their World Cup with a wicket apiece. Mahela Jayawardene, though, didn’t want to be back after dinner, finishing the chase with a flourish. His mind will already have switched to the semi-finals.
After Jayawardene put Ireland in, the early overs lulled everyone into a false sense of security, while the start of Maharoof’s first over didn’t suggest the bounty that would soon come his way. Jeremy Bray dispatched the opening two balls to the boundary, a flick over square leg and a drive through cover, before being deceived by a slower ball, popping an off side drive.
Ireland then changed the batting order, promoting Andre Botha to No. 3, but that experiment lasted two balls as he flashed outside off stump with no footwork. While Botha’s was a poor shot, Eoin Morgan couldn’t do much about his dismissal - a perfect line and length from round the wicket producing an edge, which Kumar Sangakkara pouched brilliantly low to his left with the ball almost behind him.
Chaminda Vaas, back in the side after controversially missing the match against Australia along with Muralitharan, wasn’t at his best with the new ball, drifting into the pads too often, but Nuwan Kulasekara kept a tight line. William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien survived 10 overs before Maharoof struck again, Porterfield top-edging a pull to mid-on, but Ireland’s problems were only just starting. At the start of the 19th over Muralitharan - 447 ODI wickets, the Ireland team had 85 - took the ball and by the end of it had added two more scalps to his tally.
reland’s batsmen are not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to be made to look foolish by Murali’s skills. Niall O’Brien edged a conventional offbreak and Kenny Carroll’s first World Cup outing lasted two balls before he swept and missed at a doosra. Muralitharan collected one of the easiest four-wicket hauls of his career as the lower order proved clueless against his variations.
There was also time for Maharoof to show his fielding skills. Trent Johnston drove a ball back down the pitch, Maharoof dived in his follow through, picked up and threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end. His day wasn’t quite faultless as he spilled Langford-Smith at deep square-leg and Langford-Smith brought out the long handle, swinging a maximum over deep midwicket and shimmying down the pitch to whip Muralitharan through the on side. It was a shot to tell the grandchildren about; the innings won’t be remembered quite so fondly.
But the reputation of Ireland’s players has been unanimously lifted by their World Cup exploits, none more so than Rankin who now heads to Derbyshire to take up a county contract. He claimed his 12th tournament wicket when Upul Tharanga slashed to point in the opening over. Sangakkara drove a sharp catch to cover, one final chance for Langford-Smith’s distinctive celebration, before Jayawardene added the finishing touches in a stand of 56 off 41 balls with Sanath Jayasuriya. The one consolation for the Irish fans is a few extra hours to spend on the beach. Then it’s back on the plane and a return to their normal lives, with enough stories to last a lifetime.
Source:Cricket WorldcupMore on:Boyd Rankin, dave langford, Ireland, Jayawarden, smith, Sri Lanka, World Cup
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