Connell leads Ireland to unlikely win

CONFUSION reigned at the T20 World Cup qualifiers last night before Ireland battled to a wonderful victory over Bermuda, the rain and the ICC organisers to earn a semi-final against Kenya this morning.

Rules were stretched and twisted by the tournament’s technical committee after heavy rain, to leave Ireland to defend a total of 46 in nine overs if they were to qualify for next year’s showpiece in England.

It seemed an impossible task but man-of-the-match Peter Connell set the tone for an astonishing performance in the field by taking wickets with his first and third balls, and quickly followed up with a third.

Wise heads around the ground said Bermuda would lose theirs against Andre Botha and so it proved as the seamer took two for four, supported by Alex Cusack who only conceded one more run from his two overs.

Roared on by a large crowd, Trent Johnston delivered the crucial eighth over at a cost of nine runs and with Niall O’Brien an inspiration behind the stumps throughout, the four-run win was completed by his brother Kevin.

All things being equal, Ireland would be usually be favourites to beat Bermuda but they laid themselves open to the vagaries of the D/L method (that readjusts rain-affected games) by not batting well.

Perhaps they were initially bemused to be facing an opening attack of O’Brien and Kelly but any smile was soon wiped as Niall O’Brien failed to clear mid-off when driving Stefan Kelly and fellow opener William Porterfield was lbw to the same bowler.

Things got worse as first Kevin O’Brien was bowled by his namesake George aiming a massive blow over mid on and then Botha was undone by a superbly disguised slower ball that swung in through his defences.

The discomfort of being 23 for four became real pain for Andrew White as the all-rounder was struck amidships by Kelly, and after the obligatory glass of water had failed to work its magic he was helped from the field in a state as delicate as the Ireland innings.

Gary Wilson and Cusack began to repair the damage with positive strokes and running when a heavy downpour took the players from the field after the eighth over. When they returned with one over to face, three wickets fell for addition of two runs.

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