S. Ram Mahesh
Glorious redemption for Johnston's men after the painful defeat to Australia
Bridgetown: Ireland's 74-run win over Bangladesh in Sunday's Super Eight game did more than banish the cynic and warm the heart.
The lap of honour in a mercifully filled Kensington Oval fans from a dozen nations applauding and clasping arms, with more than the rare tear splattering on bugles was right out of an underdog movie.
Redemption, glorious redemption after the painful defeat to Australia.
But, to see it that way belittles the win. This was a victory to the courageous and the resourceful. Irish captain Trent Johnston chose the known devil: batting in conditions rich for fast bowling.
"We set some serious goals," said Johnston. "We had to stay and see the new ball off. We knew it was a tricky period, and our openers have copped a bit of flak for the way they've batted, but I don't have the words to describe what the guy next to me (William Porterfield) did.
"He and Braysy (Jeremy Bray) set an excellent platform, and we were able to get a few runs towards the end. This was the best game of cricket I've been involved with these guys in my last four years; it was our best all-round performance."
A target of 244 was always going to challenge Bangladesh, and the side capped a woeful half-day full of fumbles and missed opportunities in the field with a half-day of thoughtless batting.
"We were pretty ordinary, we deserved to lose," said Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar. Bangladesh wasn't without its moments. Ashraful and Tamim Iqbal put on 45 in 7.2 overs, taking their side to 93 for three in the 20th over.
But, with Johnston bowling around the wicket the very angle that led to Adam Gilchrist's dismissal Tamim should have exercised constant vigilance, as Mad-Eye Moody so sensibly advocates.
Having just hit Johnston over long-off for four, Tamim backed away and managed to get bowled. It was shocking batting, divorced from both cricket sense and the gravity of the situation. But, it would be bettered by Ashraful. There is no batsman in cricket with a higher talent-to-weight ratio than the generously gifted Ashraful. A pull for six, impeccable in judgment of length and shifting of balance, and a cover drive against the splendid turn of Kyle McCallan were strokes of the highest order.
But, the hook off Boyd Rankin straight to fine-leg was without defence. True, it's a stroke of instinct, and true too, that it was to the shorter boundary. But, it was against the breeze and at a moment when instinct needed mentoring if not reining in. Bangladesh's one batsman who could have won it with the tail departed. Bashar's 32 was never more than token resistance.
How did Ireland turn things around after the crushing loss to Australia? "We are a pretty tight bunch of guys," said Johnston.
"We'll fight for each other and hang in. And we've got a hell of a coach, who's the best motivator I've worked with." Coach Adrian Birrell's time with Ireland draws to an end. "It's an emotional time," he said, "but, I'm bearing up. It's been a wonderful, exciting journey, but I'm looking forward to Wednesday, which is my last day of work."
The win Ireland's second against a Test-playing nation in this tournament reportedly changes Ireland's status from a temporary to a permanent one-day playing side.
"We'll just have a couple of quiet ales," said Johnston on his side's celebrations. "We're not going to party like we've won the World Cup because we haven't."
Ireland: W. Porterfield c Ra-fique b Mortaza 85, J. Bray (runout) 31, E. Morgan (run out) 5, N.O'Brien c Tamim b Saqibul 10, K.O'Brien (run out) 48, T. Johnston cNafees b Mortaza 30, A. White(run out) 4, Dave Langford-Smith(not out) 6, A. Botha (not out) 1;Extras (b-1, lb-11, nb-5, w-6) 23;Total (for seven wkts. in 50 overs)243.
Fall of wickets: 1-92, 2-101,3-128, 4-176, 5-215, 6-233,7-237.
Bangladesh bowling: Mortaza10-1-38-2, Hossain 9-1-51-0,Razzak 9-0-48-0, Rafique 10-0-42-0, Saqibul 10-0-44-1, Aftab2-0-8-0.Bangladesh: T. Iqbal b Johnston29, S. Nafees c N. O'Brien bRankin 7, A. Ahmed c N. O'Brien bBotha 12, S. Hasan (run out) 3, M.Ashraful c Langford-Smith b Rankin35, H. Bashar b Johnston 32,M. Rahim b McCallan 16, M. Mortazac & b Langford-Smith 0, M.Rafique c Johnston b Langford-Smith 2, A. Razzak b McCallan11, S. Hossain (not out) 0; Extras(lb-4, w-18) 22; Total (in 41.2overs) 169.
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-45, 3-48, 4-93, 5-102, 6-131, 7-134, 8-138, 9-169.
Ireland bowling: Rankin 8-0-42-2, Langford-Smith 10-1-27-2,Botha 8-0-31-1, Johnston 7.2-0-40-2, McCallan 8-1-25-2.