Ireland fall under Sammy's magic spell

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The Independent Online

For a qualifier, losing to an established side should not generate howls of anguish but Ireland contrived to make defeat by West Indies in their opening Group D match in the ICC World Twenty20 about as painful as it could possibly be.

They could hardly have performed better in the field, restricting the home side to 138 for 9, but once they picked up their bats nothing went right – 68 all out in 16.4 overs was the second lowest total in the tournament's short history. Kenya's 67 two years ago came, ironically, against Ireland.

William Porterfield was distraught. "The way we bowled and fielded we were right in it after the first 20 overs and so this was a massive missed opportunity," he said. "It's disappointing, not just the fact that we lost, but the way we lost, especially with the bat. It's pretty disappointing getting bowled out for [less than] 70, it doesn't matter who we're playing against or what the conditions were like or anything. We've got no excuse."

And he could hardly blame the others for letting him down. Sadly for him he led by example. He edged his first ball from Kemar Roach for four through the gap where second slip might have been. He did it again to his second but Darren Sammy, who had been moved into the gap snaffled the catch. Queue procession.

Paul Stirling and Niall O'Brien followed their leader back to the dugout as the Irish slumped to 11 for three inside the first two overs.

"We were struggling after the first 11 balls, losing three wickets. It was a struggle to come back from there," Porterfield added. "Losing early wickets set us right on the back foot. It's hard to play when we just kept losing wickets regularly. We needed a platform, needed some sort of start and to keep wickets in hand coming to the end."

His opposite number Dwayne Bravo, who stood in for Chris Gayle, a victim of stiffness, said he was "very happy with the guys that played today", but he could have stopped with Sammy, who did a lot more than catch Porterfield. Topscorer with 30 coming in at No 7, Sammy took four catches as Ireland slumped to 55 for six and then mopped up three of the last four Ireland wickets.

He will test himself next in Group D against England tomorrow, while Ireland face England a day later.

The real bright spot for Ireland was the performance of their 17-year-old spinner George Dockrell, who took 3 for 16 runs in his four-over spell.

West Indies never got going with the bat, with only Ramnaresh Sarwan scored more than 20 among the top six, and at 83 for 5 that brought in Sammy to provide some semblance of order, but he received little help as he dragged his side to 127 before falling to Andre Botha.

When Porterfield took the catch to send Sammy on his way, he might have thought Ireland had done enough.