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The Irish challenge for a place in the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup came to an end on Tuesday when the European minnows were handsomely beaten by South Africa by 131 runs at the Eden Gardens today. South Africa had early hiccups losing 5 wickets for 117 runs, but a brilliant 99 from JP Duminy took the Proteas to a formidable total. The South African bowling was too strong for Ireland as they were knocked over for just 141. Morne Morkel and Robin Peterson were the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 wickets each. The win meant that South Africa were the first team from Group B to advance to the last 8 and moved to the top of the table with 8 points from 5 games. Three other teams amongst India, West Indies, Bangladesh and England will join them there.
Ireland won the toss and decided to exploit the conditions by bowling first. The pitch had a bit of grass and the bowlers started well. Boyd Rankin generated a bit of pace and didn't let Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla break free. Finally Amla took Rankin on and smashed a boundary and a six but he went for a shot too many, edging a widish delivery to George Dockrell, who took a fine catch at the third man boundary.
Morne Van Wyk was promoted up the order to no.3 and got into the act right away. He was given a life when Kevin O'Brien dropped a sharp chance at short extra cover when the batsman had only 4 to his name. Van Wyk continued to go after the bowling and was given a third chance when Paul Stirling dropped a sitter in the slips. At the other end Smith's terrible run in the World Cup continued when he was run out for 7. The Proteas skipper had answered the call for a single from Van Wyk, who changed his mind and sent Smith back, but his dive was beaten by a direct hit from John Mooney.
Jacques Kallis came to the middle with plenty of work to be done, but struggled to find his timing. Van Wyk at the other end had been racing along, but his run finally ran out as he was bowled for 42 (41b) by a George Dockrell delivery that stayed a touch low. Kallis followed him back soon after, run out for the second straight match to leave South Africa in a spot of bother at 95/4 in the 21st over.
The Irish spinners ran through their overs with two new batsmen in the middle and the next 6 overs contributed wicket of Faf du Plessis, who edged a beautifully flighted delivery from Paul Stirling to the lone slip. Collin Ingram, playing his first World Cup game in place of the injured AB de Villiers, joined JP Duminy and had the task to rescue South Africa from their slump. The two left-handers looked in excellent touch and rotated the strike really well between them. They upped the scoring rate considerably, doing better than a run a ball and South Africa went past 200 in the 40th over.
They lost Ingram immediately, though, bowled by Trent Johnston for a well compiled 46 off just 43 balls. With 5 wickets down, South Africa decided that discretion was the better part of valour and opted to continue to compile the runs while putting the bad balls away, rather than taking undue risk. They got the odd boundary at important intervals and with Duminy still present there was still hope of a big total. Duminy was hitting the ball sweetly and Johan Botha supported him well. Duminy took the attack to the Irish during the batting powerplay which was taken in the last 5 overs. He sadly though missed out on what would have been a well deserved hundred, falling for 99 while trying to hit a boundary in the last over. He had taken South Africa to a competitive 272 and with runs on the board, the onus was now on the Irish to go out and get them.
Credit at the same time needs to be given to young left-arm spinner Dockrell, who bowled his 10 overs for just 37 runs, picking up a wicket and was well supported by Stirling, who had 2-45 to show from his 10 overs. The Ireland ground fielding was also rather spectacular, and in addition to the two run outs, saved atleast 30 runs in the field.
Ireland's effort with the bat was exceptionally disappointing. Not so much in the fact that the team did not ever really look like chasing down the target, but more so because 8 out of 11 players got into double digits before getting out. Skipper William Porterfield was the first casualty, edging a Morne Morkel delivery to the slips in the second over of the innings. Stirling, who had hit a couple of boundaries and was looking threatening followed his skipper back in Morkel's second over to leave Ireland at 19/2.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals with Niall O'Brien falling to Jacques Kallis for 10 and Ed Joyce to Botha for 12. Gary Wilson and Kevin O'Brien started to build a partnership and the large crowd of cricket fanatics that had turned up in Kolkata started getting behind the underdogs. However, the innings was dealt a crushing double blow when both batsmen fell at the same score to leave Ireland out of the game at 92/6. Kevin O'Brien (19) gave his wicket away trying to hit a six down the ground off Robin Peterson. The left-arm spinner struck again in the same over when he trapped Gary Wilson in front of the wickets for 31. Peterson could have had three in that over when a leg before decision was reviewed but the third umpire gave the decision in favour of the batsman.
The damage had been done and it was about surviving the 50 overs from thereon for Ireland. South Africa though kept getting wickets and eventually wrapped up the Ireland innings for 141.
Ireland will bid adieu to the World Cup after their final game of the tournament against the Netherlands also at Eden Gardens in 3 days time. Both teams will be anxious to finish on a high, so expect fireworks in that one. South Africa meanwhile will travel to Bangladesh to play their final game against the co-hosts. That match will either be a knock-out game for Bangladesh or a vital match to decide who finishes where in the top 4 depending on how England and West Indies fare later this week.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (c), Hashim Amla, Morne van Wyk (wk), Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.
Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien (wk), Gary Wilson, Kevin O'Brien, Alex Cusack, John Mooney, Trent Johnston, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin.
South Africa 272/7 in 50 overs (5.44 runs per over)
JP Duminy 99(103) J Mooney 1-36
C Ingram 46(43) G Dockrell 1-37
Ireland 141 all out in 33.2 overs (4.23 runs per over)
G Wilson 31(48) R Peterson 3-32
K O'Brien 19(24) M Morkel 3-33
South Africa won by 131 runs
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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