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Plays of the day for the qualifying match between Ireland and Zimbabwe in Sylhet
Abhishek Purohit in Sylhet
March 17, 2014
Ireland somehow managed to convert seven required off 13 to one needed off the last ball. Facing his first ball and the final one of the game, Alex Cusack missed. But the bigger miss was coming from Brendan Taylor, who under-armed the ball and missed the stumps by a long way. Stuart Thompson was nowhere close to making it through. A couple of blinks after the throw missed, he collided with a fielder, but managed to stumble and fall onto the crease. At the other end, Cusack lumbered home in slow motion to seal the win.
In the 12th over of the chase, Andrew Poynter lofted Sean Williams wide of deep midwicket. Even as the batsmen turned for the second, the fielder got to the ball and let it rip towards the non-striker's end. We'll never know if there could have been a run-out chance, for the throw smacked straight into Steve Davis' shoulder, the umpire standing with his back to the boundary as usual with an eye on the crease. Davis took the blow quite gamely, contorting his face in pain only for a moment, before he walked to his position behind the stumps chatting pleasantly with Williams.
The horror start
Tinashe Panyangara had a nightmare beginning, when his first four deliveries in the sixth over went for boundaries. William Porterfield had done most of the scoring for Ireland till then, but Paul Stirling was to overtake his captain in the space of four balls. The first one was the best stroke as Stirling made plenty of room to place it behind backward point. The second was a charge-and-chip over midwicket. Panyangara succumbed to the pressure now and let Stirling have a full toss down leg, which was nudged for four more. The fourth one was cruel on the bowler, a bottom edge flying past the keeper as Stirling had a go at another low full toss. Panyangara finally got the yorker in off the fifth ball, but the damage had been done.
The emphatic swat
Zimbabwe began with spin from both ends, legspinner Tafadzwa Kamungozi following the offspin of Prosper Utseya. Porterfield took him on right away in the most emphatic fashion. Kamungozi pitched one outside leg. It was finishing just around leg stump when Porterfield went down on one knee and sent it soaring over point for four with a powerful swish of the bat.
The Sylhet Stadium has something very few grounds in the subcontinent can boast of. A grass bank. Not just any grass bank, it is an entire grassy hillock, multi-tiered at that. For some time after the match started, only the bottom tier was occupied by fans. Suddenly they all got up and made a dash for the upper tiers. It was quite a sight watching hundreds run up a hillock. Won't be happening at another cricket ground soon.
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