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Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 20:40 UK

Ireland into Twenty20 semi-finals

William Porterfield of Ireland
William Porterfield led Ireland to victory over Bermuda

Ireland beat Bermuda by four runs in a match reduced to nine overs to claim a place in the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers.

Ireland were 41-4 off eight overs when the rain came and they finished on 43-7, leaving Bermuda a target of 46 under the Duckworth Lewis method.

In a tense finale Bermuda ended on 41-8 with Ireland bowler Peter Connell taking three wickets for eight runs.

Ireland now play Kenya in the first of the semi-finals on Monday morning.

The Irish had to struggle mightily to preserve their ambitions of a spot in England in 2009 and the bounty on offer with a triumph by the Duckworth-Lewis method.

It all started to go wrong for the Irish, who won the toss, when openers Will Porterfield and Niall O'Brien departed cheaply, depriving the hosts of their two county-seasoned batsmen.

O'Brien was ousted for five by a magnificent one-handed catch from OJ Pitcher as the Northants wicket-keeper attempted to loft over mid-off while his captain made just four before being trapped LBW while attempting to play a poor stroke at a straight ball from Stefan Kelly.

There was little smile in the Irish eyes when Kevin O'Brien was similarly wasteful while trying for a third boundary in his nine-ball stint as namesake George struck.

There was a lot of luck out there and team fight
Ireland bowler Peter Connell

The trauma continued when O'Brien removed Andre Botha for a solitary run as Ireland teetered on 23-4 and another blow was inflicted when Andrew White had to hobble off when he was struck by Kelly.

Fierce showers provided a respite for Porterfield's men when the skies opened in the ninth over. On 41-4 after exactly nine overs, it had been chilling stuff.

Two hours, and as many showers later, came word from the Technical Committee, that the Irish would get just one more over to try and set a target.

"It was harsh," declared Irish coach Phil Simmons. "But Duckworth-Lewis is always harsh."

Left with no choice but to attempt a full-blooded assault, it was Bermudan captain Irving Romaine who inflicted deep wounds with the ball.

Alex Cusack top edged to Pitcher off the first ball, Gary Wilson was stumped off the second, while Reinhardt Strydom was run out off the last, with just two runs added.

It left Bermuda needing just 46 off 8 overs to pip their opponents to a spot in the last four but their own nerves frayed when Chris Foggo was caught by substitute fielder, Thinus Fourie at third man.

Cometh the hour, cometh Peter Connell. Two balls later, the North Down man claimed a second victim, David Hemp getting a thin edge through to Niall O'Brien. 0-2, perhaps there was an improbable comeback amid the grey.

In successive overs, Irish hopes appeared to have slipped, literally, through Ireland's fingers.

Botha dropped a tough pull from James Celestine and the 34 year-old escaped again when Fourie fumbled an easier opportunity at mid-off.

Yet Connell maintained his rescue act by trapping Steven Outerbridge on 8 with Bermuda on just 14-3 before O'Brien added a timely stumping to thwart Celestine on seven.

Botha had presented that temptation and the South African-born all-rounder took out Romaine's off-stump with a perfect delivery as the tension built with every ball.

Pitcher, on six, was run out. So too Jekon Edness and at 31-7 midway through the eighth over, it was becoming win or bust for Romaine's troops.

George O'Brien launched a six over the square leg boundary off Trent Johnson but when he immediately tried to replicate the feat, Connell took a critical catch at the second attempt.

And with eight overs down after Johnson's subsequent yorker, Ireland had completed the great escape, Bermuda eventually falling five short of a consolation victory.

"We knew that it would be hard to score boundaries on this pitch after the rain," Connell added.

"There was a lot of luck out there and team fight."

see also
Scots & Irish eye World Twenty20
01 Aug 08 |  Cricket

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