Ireland spin their way to upset
Ireland 193 for 9 (Gillespie 41, Averis 4-17) beat Gloucestershire 146 (Afridi 3-4, McCallan 3-5) by 47 runs
Ireland showed they aren't to be taken lightly in the C&G Trophy as they pulled off the first upset of this year's new-style tournament, downing Gloucestershire by 47 runs at Bristol. They were led to victory by an outstanding performance from two of their spinners - the well-known Shahid Afridi and not-so-famous Kyle McCallan.
The pair bowled 12 overs between, with nine maidens, conceded just 11 runs and took six wickets. They induced a Gloucestershire collapse from 124 for 4, proving almost unplayable. Afridi, who earlier contributed an unusually sedate 36 to the Ireland innings, was playing his first match of the season after arriving late due to family illness. What a way to start.
His figures were exemplary - of the type rarely seen in one-day cricket - but McCallan's performance was equally impressive. He claimed two wickets in his first over, the vital strike of Chris Taylor then Mark Hardinges first ball, before nailing the final scalp of James Averis - fittingly caught by Afridi.
Adrian Birrell, the Ireland coach, was understandably thrilled: "This is a great confidence boost for us....there is no doubt we were under a bit of pressure after the disappointment of last week [defeat against Hampshire]. We know there is room for improvement in all areas of our play but that is what this campaign is all about.
"We lost our way in the batting after a good stand between Shahid and Eoin Morgan but then Dave Langford-Smith and Peter Gillespie batted with great heart to take us to a respectable total and how invaluable those runs proved to be. In addition, Andre Botha came back from a double duck to take two top order wickets and put us back in the game and Kyle McCallan bowled superbly along with Shahid.
"The spirit of the team never dropped but these two guys, [Afridi and Saqlain Mushtaq], have electrified the atmosphere in the dressing room."
Ireland had struggled for serious momentum after being put into bat but Morgan confirmed his enormous potential with a gutsy 40, adding 72 with Afridi. However, at 118 for 7, the innings was on the verge of a premature end before Gillespie and Langford-Smith played very sensibly in an eighth-wicket stand of 61.
A Pakistani Test player may have led the way, however it was also a day for your everyday bloke to be a hero. But Ireland can't celebrate too hard - they play Glamorgan at Cardiff tomorrow, that's the world of professional cricket.