England v Ireland, Group D, World Twenty20, Providence May 4, 2010

This time, fickle weather works for England

England progress having played two vastly different innings, bowled 9.2 overs and taken three wickets as Ireland retreat home

We will never know whether Ireland could have continued their history of giant-killing at global one-day tournaments, but their impressive bowling, sharp fielding and the fickle Guyana weather certainly made it a tense afternoon for England. For a while it looked like a repeat performance of the West Indies match was on the cards with Ireland set for a much-reduced chase, but this time the rain was heavy enough to force the abandonment that was good enough for Paul Collingwood's team.

The weather has made for an unsatisfactory end to Guyana's part in the World Twenty20 (statistics say May is one of the driest months, but this is still rainforest country) and there was a stage towards the end of this match where the groundstaff were playing a game of hokey cokey with the covers - 'in out, in out, shake it all about.' Every effort was made to restart the game, and Providence's impressive drainage system earned its keep, but with Ireland about to resume a nine-over match - where they would have needed a further 47 off 33 balls - a final burst had the teams shaking hands.

William Porterfield was left rueful, and showed the utmost confidence that his side could have reached the target, while Collingwood was left relieved. When the players went off for the first stoppage of the innings after 1.2 overs Andy Flower, the England coach, was seen banging the table in frustration.

He clearly feared the worst and a large amount of frustration will have stemmed from knowing that an early exit would have meant no more opportunity to prove England have improved considerably in this format. Although there have been a fair few comments about a whinging England team since the West Indies match, two such results would have been a rough way to leave a tournament.

"We were looking at all the different scenarios, at one point we were about to go back on and it would have been 19 in 10 balls or something like and it was like here we go again," Collingwood said. "You just don't want those situations where a couple of edges can go their way.

"Either it comes and washes it out or we get the full 20 overs in because when you have 10 wickets in the hutch and it gets reduced it certainly comes more into their favour. I guess the rain has come at a time that it's got us through to the next stage so it's helped us a little bit."

However, let's not forget that Ireland gave their senior opposition a serious challenge in the first half of the game. George Dockrell, the 17-year-old left-arm spinner, excelled once again with four overs for 19, against a middle order that was explosive one game earlier, and Trent Johnston was miserly in his spell.

"The attitude we took out into the field there was brilliant," Porterfield said. "We just want to get into Super Eights and beat the big teams in there. We came with our sights set on that, and showed glimpses in our performance that we could do that. The way we came out today, after Friday's disappointment, was great. If we can take that into every game, we'll go places."

If it hadn't been for an inventive Irishman, England may have struggled to reach three figures. Eoin Morgan top-scored with 45 off 37 balls, a far different innings from his dazzling display against West Indies, but at least it gave them a target to defend.

"He's a very versatile player, he can play all the shots, but he's also got a good mind on him which is what you need in the middle order especially at No. 5," Collingwood said. "He seems to be reading the situations really well. We thought we could play to the 15th over then hit them hard but it was so hard to get the big shots away. A lot of credit goes to the Ireland bowlers, the wicket seemed to suit them quite well but I'm delighted the way Morgs is going."

When Kevin Pietersen picked out deep midwicket in identical fashion to his dismissal against the hosts - and on the split-screen replay it was hard to tell them apart - the score was 49 for 4. Not the sort of base for an onslaught. This, though, was a different wicket and the brief signs of Ireland's innings, with Paul Stirling wafting at thin air, suggested that Ireland would have had their work cut out.

"We were pretty confident once we got to 120," Collingwood said. "It was probably a 130-wicket and you would have been very happy with that and 140 you'd have been really confident. It could have gone quite close today but there was a bit of turn out there and it was seaming around as well."

So England progress having played two vastly different innings, bowled 9.2 overs and taken three wickets as Ireland retreat home following their extended stay in the Caribbean knowing the collapse for 68 against West Indies did irreparable damage to their run rate. The tournament now moves to Barbados, where there should be more confidence in the weather, but apparently it was raining there on Tuesday as well. Keep those Duckworth-Lewis charts handy.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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