Cricket: Irish beat strife and strains to reach last eight: Weather holds up ICC Trophy

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The Independent Online
AFTER 10 days of the ICC Trophy, the players and officials are taking a well-earned break. They need it - most of the teams have had fewer days off than expected, with the weather forcing more than half the matches into a second day.

The strain is beginning to tell. The injury list is growing, with the worst hit being the Irish team.

Two of the four Irish games could not be decided in one day, while their captain, Stephen Warke, broke his arm in a collision with the Nairobi club's heavy roller, and the all-rounder, Desmond Curry, has had to fly home following the sudden death of his father. The remaining 14 in the squad are feeling the effects of six days on the field out of the last seven.

Under the replacement captain, Alan Lewis, the side has battled its way through to the second-round stage after finishing second to the Netherlands in Group A. They are joined by United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh from Group B, Kenya and Canada from Group C and Bermuda and Hong Kong from Group D.

These eight are now split into two groups of four, with each playing the other three tomorrow, Friday and Sunday to decide the the semi-final line-up on 1 and 3 March.

All the seeds - the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Kenya and Bermuda - remain in the competition, but it is becoming clear that the seedings are more arbitrary than had been anticipated. Canada, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong have all given the seeds a nasty shock.

Last Tuesday, Hong Kong tied at 154 apiece with fourth-seeded Bermuda, the seeds winning only through losing fewer wickets. On Sunday, chasing 210 against Canada, Kenya were 169 for 7 after 44 overs and the run rate was looking ominous. Then Edward Tito redeemed himself with the bat after earlier dropping a dolly catch from Paul Prashad on 20, leaving the Canadian to forge on to 84.

Tito launched his offensive in the 45th over, when he hammered 18 off an over from the unfortunate Tony Gardner to bring the rate within reach. His partner, David Tikolo, then added a further 12 in the 46th over and suddenly, to both Canada's and the huge partisan crowd's amazement, Kenya wrapped up the match in the 47th over.

Denmark had to beat Bermuda to join Bermuda and Hong Kong on 12 points, and hope their run rate would take them through. But Bermuda had the last say with a five- wicket win yesterday to put paid to Danish hopes, Bermuda passing Denmark's 183 in the 43rd over.

The unseeded but talented United Arab Emirates gained a six- wicket win over the second seeds, Bangladesh, leaving them top of Group B. This may have come as a surprise to the seeding committee, but not to anyone else. The United Arab Emirates squad comprises eight Pakistanis - seven of whom play for the top Pakistan club, Lahore, according to a well-informed ICC source - and four Indians. Questions have been asked about the eligibilty of some of these players - an issue which may become prominent if they reach the final.