2011 Cricket World Cup -
While all the talk of associate teams bringing the level of cricket down. With many so called experts claiming they were ruining the game of cricket. With some feeling they weren't needed and they should stick to the full members. Which in itself is quite ludicrous as the full members already had the Champions Trophy. A competition which was for all the full members.
So with the possibility at the time of the next 50 over World Cup, having only the ten full member nations. It was vital that the associates put on a good showing. While not much was realistically expected from Kenya and Canada. The real possibility of a shock was to come from giant killers Ireland. With all notable mention going towards the Netherlands.
First up for Ireland was their most likely targeted team for an upset. They were to face Bangladesh and having deciding to bat first, they got away to quite a flyer. With both Irish opening bowlers being dispatched around the ground. Then they were to soon realise pace off the ball was key here.
With Niall O'Brien creating a piece of magic behind the stumps to stump Kayes. While they were to continue losing many wickets. With the next one falling due to some very shoddy running. When Ed Joyce ran Siddique out. Who would only be followed by Iqbal a few overs later. With Botha removing the huge wicket of Iqbal, after Porterfield completed the rest.
While Porterfield did drop Shakib Al Hasan, he would soon be let off the hook. When Botha completed a very nice caught and bowled, to leave the home crowd stunned. Then Dockrell was brought back and he had Rahim sweeping, which resulted in a top-edge to White.
While Bangladesh never got anything going after that. With lots of crafty bowling by Ireland's two veterans, joined by Dockrell and Rankin. Left Bangladesh all out for 205. Giving Ireland a total of 206 for victory.
Things wouldn't be made too easy for Ireland either. Although Stirling was given a lifeline early on, he wouldn't make full use of it. As he was just about stumped inside the 6th over.
With the pressure appearing to get to Ireland, as next to go was the captain Porterfield. Niall O'Brien and Ed Joyce put on a decent partnership but Joyce would fall. Getting the leading edge from Ashraful who completed the caught and bowled. He would then remove White, leaving Ireland in all sorts of trouble.
While it might have been expected of the O'Brien brothers to see the side home. Niall O'Brien chipping down the ground, which Iqbal caught quite brilliantly inches off the turf.
Then Kevin O'Brien smacked a six, then in the next over. Botha was able to find the boundary before Kevin hit consecutive fours. As it appeared Ireland were in the driving seat again. However with 55 runs needed, Bangladesh struck the killer blow. Trying to clear the ropes Kevin pulled one down the throat of Shuvo.
With Mooney, Botha and Johnston removed within a short space of time, it ended Ireland's chances in the game. With the wicket of Rankin sealing the victory for Bangladesh by 27 runs.
With Ireland bringing themselves very close to victory, then to lose it so narrowly. It wasn't going to make the calls for the cull of the associates any quieter. While next up for Ireland was their bitter rivals England. With most people believing the chance for victory and qualification, was down to beating Bangladesh.
However with that loss happening, it didn't leave much hope for the rest of the tournament.
England having won the toss, decided to have a bat first.
While Pietersen and Strauss made light work of the opening overs. With neither batsmen in particular trouble. While it took 81 balls for the first wicket to fall. Dockrell bowling the birthday boy Strauss for 34 on his 34th birthday.
While Trott then hit Mooney with distain for consecutive boundaries, before Pietersen then launched him for six.
Then of all the ways Pietersen would likely be dismissed. He went for the reverse-dab against Stirling. However it only resulted in the top edge to Niall behind the stumps.
While Bell and Trott painfully piled the misery and the runs on Ireland. In a partnership worth 166, it was broken by Mooney. With Stirling taking a stunning catch, low to his right at midwicket to dismiss Bell.
Trott would then fall to a most unglamorous and uncharacteristic shot, trying to stand and deliver. Instead Mooney had his off stump knocked over. Then Johnston had Prior removed with the stumps once again disturbed!
While Collingwood did find the big six, he was then removed by Mooney. Caught well by Kevin at mid-on. Johnston would reach a nice milestone, bowling Yardy for his 50th ODI wicket.
With the last wicket to fall to Mooney, removing Bresnan on the last ball of the innings.
Could Ireland chase down the target of 328!
''Ireland have proudly carried the associates' standard for two World Cups in succession. They're not asking for free lunches, just for a fair chance''
"I have one brother on the team, but 13 more wearing green here in India," said Niall O'Brien.
"We'd die for each other," said John Mooney. "These are my blood brothers."
To be continued...