x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ireland stun Bangladesh

As if Ireland's golden year of sport had not been good enough already, their cricket team are even getting in on the act.

As if Ireland's golden year of sport had not been good enough already, their cricket team are even getting in on the act. The majority of the Lions rugby squad touring South Africa are Irish, following the success of the grand slam-winning national team, while Leinster have ended up the European club champions. Now William Porterfield and Co have confirmed their place in the business stages of the World Twenty20, thanks to a six-wicket triumph over Bangladesh last night.

The O'Brien brothers, Niall and Kevin, performed heroically for the victors. Niall, the maverick wicketkeeper who was their batting hero when they stunned Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup, injured his ankle while Bangladesh were accruing their 137. Yet he soldiered on and, batting with a runner, made a crucial 40. The platform was set for his brother, Kevin, three years his junior, to blast the men in green to victory at the ground of the county side, Nottinghamshire, for whom he recently signed.

Ireland have been demanding recognition from the cricket world for some time now. Ahead of yesterday's game, Porterfield, their captain, labelled it their "final", and they had a point to prove against the lowliest ranked Test side. The ensuing victory will further their claim for permanent inclusion among the game's elite. The next step would be to play Test cricket, and judging by their record against the Bangladeshis - the nation who were most recently admitted to that exclusive group - they are deserving of that. They also beat them over 50 overs in the Caribbean two years ago.

The gap separating them from the remainder of the Associate world has become a gulf. They were head and shoulders above the rest when they won the ICC World Cup Qualifier, in which the UAE were also playing, in South Africa recently. Another victory against Test opposition should not go unrewarded. pradley@thenational.ae