Ireland against England, it was on the second of March of the year 2011...
Ireland had come into the World Cup on the back of 2007 and the performances they had shown throughout that particular World Cup and a lot was expected of the best associate side. Ireland's first game was against one of the host nations, a game against Bangladesh, a team that Ireland felt on par with and had a very good record against but this was different, this was in their own backyard and after Bangladesh had been held to 205 it was highly expected by Ireland that they would chase this target down and not only that, Ireland had targeted this game as a game they could win,
Things don't always go your way and Ireland succumbed to the pressure in Dhaka and were bowled out for 178 and Bangladesh won by 27 runs, now come the 2nd of March and Ireland's next game was against a much fancied England side, and having won the toss England decided to bat and even with a decent bowling effort by the Irish, England still put 327/8 on the board and even the biggest Irish fan would have thought this was beyond them, and who could argue with them.
So began the Irish run chase, and it began very badly for the Irish with the Irish Captain being knocked over on the very first ball by James Anderson, and that was much the story of the chase, a lot of starts and lot of luck with Joyce being dropped twice and even with the pressure on, it didn't stop young Paul Stirling from playing his own game and after only facing four balls had Stirling, he had Broad sent for a six and Ireland had started to rebuild and with Stirling still in, the required run rate stayed in control,
And then disaster struck Bresnan gets Stirling caught at deep square and with only two balls left of the first powerplay Ireland were two down and Ireland couldn't afford much more mistakes, Ireland managed to stay to the 20th over before another wicket was lost but not getting many runs at all and the required run rate was up to near eight an over when Niall O'Brien was bowled by Graeme Swann and Ireland were really in trouble now and by now most fans had started to lose hope,
And only two overs later the big fish of Ed Joyce was stumped from Swann and with this wicket Ireland were four down and in comes Kevin O'Brien and the situation was desperate and anymore wickets falling would have crippled the team and his partner at the other end was struggling badly and the inevitable happened and Gary Wilson was LBW to Swann and by now Kevin had decided to himself that he could try knock the ball around and get the score to a respectable one or between him and Alex Cusack they could give it a go and go down trying,
What was coming next noone could have seen, and the tormentor of the Irish side bowled to Kevin and many would have thought with Kevin giving everything a whack, that his innings wouldn't last long, Swann's first ball to Kevin goes for a big six over midwicket, and the next is a lot more quiet and is a dot ball but he wasn't finished with Swann and the last ball of the over once again went for a six over midwicket and this was only the start of things to come,
And this type of brute attack went on for quite some time and Ireland then did something that not many teams did in cricket and took the batting powerplay in the 32nd over and not only did they take it but they scored 62 runs for the loss of no wickets and in this huge powerplay Kevin O'Brien hit James Anderson for the biggest six of the tournament at the time (102 metres!)
and with that England fans were starting to get worried and Irish fans from a stage of hoping for a respectable score turned into a feeling that their team could actually win the game, who would have thought that when Portefield was bowled over on the very first ball,
And by this stage Ireland now needed 106 from 15 overs and the required run rate was down to just over 7 runs to the over, and big Kevin wasn't stopping there, he continued on and on untill disaster nearly struck the big Irish man when he hit Collingwood down the ground but not far enough and Strauss dropped the game when he dropped Kevin on 93, and even the neutral commentators had got into the game and seemed to be delighted with the drop of Kevin O'Brien, and with Kevin still at the crease another thing came to light, the fastest World Cup century of all time, Matthew Hayden had got a century in the previous World Cup from 67 balls and at this stage Kevin was only on 45 balls for his 93,
And people forget to mention the other hand in this innings was a small quiet man called Alex Cusack who held himself a decent score of 40 from 53 balls and he held one end shut and wasn't letting anyone else in and it was the perfect partnership, and then came the last ball of the 41st over and Kevin O'Brien taps a full toss into the legside and runs for two and not just that, he runs for the fastest World Cup century of all time from just 50 balls and the 6th fastest ODI century of all time but he couldn't celebrate long, he knew the biggest job was still to be finished, and that was winning the game for Ireland and creating history, and with that Ireland needed 56 runs from 54 balls,
All was going splendidly till disaster struck and Kevin blocked the delivery to point and Cusack set of for a run that wasn't there and Kevin didn't move, and Cusack sacrificed his wicket for his partner Kevin as he knew if Ireland were to win Kevin needed to be there, and what a partnership it was, 162 for the 6th wicket and at a run rate of 9.43,
The new man was John Mooney, when the last World Cup was around he was an electrician and with the new found fame of Irish Cricket he had now become a professional cricketer and was a full time player and a lot of pressure was on his shoulders, and it had shown with the reuired run rate climbing enough to put pressure but Mooney stood up and often with overs going for little runs he had managed to hit a boundary of the last ball for 3 of the overs he was involved in and kept the rate manageable and kept the English bowlers frustrated,
And then the biggest disaster struck in the 48th over, he hit a yorker to midwicket, he ran the single easily but wanted a second which didn't exist and despite his best effort of a dive he was out with some solid work from Prior behind the stumps and he can only stay face down in the crease, he knows he has thrown his wicket away but not before showing the world what he can do and possibly winning Ireland this cricket game against their rivals England,
In comes the hugely experienced Trent Johnston and the young man at 36 has been sitting down nervous hoping it wasn't him to finish the game for Ireland but he was indeed needed and Broad was to bowl to him and with 11 needed from 11 balls Broad needed to be tight and the fielding even tighter but that wasn't to be Broad bowls a gentle full toss and Johnston drove it calmly to the extra cover rope and his nervs would have been settled by this and at the end of the 49th over Ireland needed just 3 from 6 balls and James Anderson was to bowl the last over, what pressure must Anderson and Mooney/Johnston be under,
Well Mooney dealt with it the best and a full delivery from Anderson, was timed wide of midwicket for four and Ireland have done the unthinkable and beaten England and not only that they have created history by chasing the biggest total in World Cup history and this is not a test playing team, the team who chased this total was the minnow the associate country, everyone likes underdogs and there was no better examples of it shown than today when Ireland were sent in to chase whatever total England could muster up and they did it in style,
I don't think people will forget the name Kevin O'Brien anytime soon...