Plucky Ireland goes out swinging at cricket World Cup

NORMAN DA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

TORONTO - Ireland bowed out of the World Cup with a comfortable six-wicket victory over the Netherlands in a battle of the best minnows. And Sri Lanka’s spinners, led by the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, spun a web around New Zealand for an easy 112-run win.

Sri Lanka’s triumph before a raucous crowd in Mumbai assured it will finish second in Group A no matter the result of today’s final game between Australia and Pakistan. While the placings in the other group won’t be sorted out until this weekend, let us assume Sri Lanka’s next opponent will be England. That’s just an educated guess.

Muralitharan, who retires from all forms of cricket after this quadrennial extravaganza, bamboozled the Kiwis with four wickets for a meagre 25 runs to send New Zealand crashing to 153 in just 35 overs.

Skipper Kumar Sangakkara (111), his vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene (66) and Angelo Matthews (41) were the only batsmen to reach double figures in Sri Lanka’s total of 265 for nine.

The game was marred by one strange decision by umpire Asad Rauf. Nathan McCallum took a clean catch to dismiss Jayawardene when he was on 26. After consulting with the third umpire and the replays showed Jayawardene was indeed out, Rauf refused to change his call.

The Irish went out with a bang and, if they are not allowed back in four years by the fossils who run the International Cricket Council, it will be a crying shame.

Ireland chased down the Netherlands’ 306 to score 307 for four to complete the third highest run chase in World Cup history in a match that produced two centuries.

Ryan ten Doeschate scored 106, his second century in the tournament for the Dutch, and 20-year-old Paul Stirling made his presence felt with 101. He shared an opening stand of 177 with his skipper William Porterfield.

Kevin O’Brien, who will be remembered for his 50-ball century against England, praised Stirling’s knock.

“It’s for the people of India and the world to see how Stirling played, he’s the future,’’ he said. “We had a great time in India. Just love the people here. Good to sign off with a win. We played some good cricket.’’

The Irish certainly did.


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