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John Ward in Belfast
August 3, 2008
Ireland 43 for 7 beat Bermuda 41 for 8 (Connell 3-8) by 4 runs (D-L method)
Frenetic, farcical, even ludicrous cricket. That, it seemed, was what was necessary to bring about a result in this match after rain had ripped the guts out of the middle. Ireland, defending what seemed an almost indefensible target after Duckworth-Lewis intruded, came out victors by four runs as Bermuda, who had done so well before the rain, self-destructed with the bat. Not one player from either side reached double figures.
Ireland won the toss and batted, despite the most recent matches being won by the team chasing. They quickly lost Niall O'Neill for 5 in the second over, victim of a superb leaping catch by Oliver Pitcher at mid-on - the sort of feat that can raise a flagging team. William Porterfield soon followed, lbw to Stefan Kelly for 4, and Ireland were 16 for 2 in the fourth over, with another low team total beckoning.
Kevin O'Brien clearly believed in positive methods, hitting a fine shot over mid-on for four, but then swung across the line and was bowled by his namesake George O'Brien for 10 off nine balls. In the same over, Andre Botha fell the same way, though off the inside edge, and the Bermudan players almost took off with excitement. After five overs they were 24 for 4 and, to make matters worse, without addition Andrew White was forced to retire hurt after taking a serious blow in the box.
O'Brien finished an honourable spell of 2 for 13 as ominous rain-clouds approached and Ireland tried to fight back. They burst on the ground at 41 for 4 after eight overs. More than two hours' play was lost, but the ground handled the downpour well and play could be restared at 7.15pm. It would now be a nine-over match, so there was the slightly farcical situation of Ireland batting for just one further over before the change of innings - after which Duckworth-Lewis regulations would apply.
In that one over, bowled by Irving Romaine - who looks like a slightly reduced double for Dwayne Leverock - Alex Cusack holed out off the first ball for 5, while Gary Wilson attempted an extravagant reverse sweep and somehow managed to get himself stumped. Reinhardt Strydom managed to get himself run out, so that one over brought three wickets for just two runs. Ireland's nine-over total was 43 for 6.
Bermuda's target was announced as 46, which was greeted by incredulity by local supporters, as Ireland had batted for almost all their innings anticipating a full 20 overs. The first ball saw Chris Foggo scooping a ball over his shoulder to be well held by fine leg running back. David Hemp missed the second and edged the third to the keeper.
Two singles followed, and off the final ball James Celestine pulled powerfully to square leg, quite close, who just failed to hold what would have been a brilliant catch. Off the second ball of the next over, the same batsman was missed at mid-off; this was followed by ridiculous batting strokes, misfields, suicidal running between wickets and a missed run-out chance - everything was happening.
Next out was the batting hero of the morning match, Steven Outerbridge, lbw for 8 to a straight ball from Peter Connell. Gradually both sides pulled themselves together a little, but the panic button was still frequently engaged by both teams when calm heads were needed but out of stock. Wild swings cost wickets, suicidal runs brought fielding follies and sometimes botched run-outs. The bowlers generally handled the pressure much better than the batsmen or fielders, with Andre Botha doing a good job with two wickets for four runs, Cusack close behind with just five runs conceded. Connell was to take the accolades, however, with a very impressive 3 for 8.
Bermuda, whose target had looked too easy in theory, suddenly found themselves at 26 for 6 with just 17 deliveries left. This became 18 off two overs; there was another suicidal run-out; wild fresh-air swipes; a six over midwicket by George O'Brien; a huge skied catch. Nine off the last over, two wickets left, Kevin O'Brien to bowl. Five balls brought unusually sane cricket, and just five runs. The luckless Stefan Kelly needed to hit the final ball for six; he missed.
Game over, and victory to Ireland.
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