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Ireland dealt USA a one-two punch today first by batting away to an Irish record of 216 for 3, then following that up by dismissing USA for 141 in 19.3 overs. In the end, USA's run rate diffferential slipped to -1.457 and USA made a quick descent to the bottom of Group A.
The shortest way to take a qualifying spot is to finish among the top three teams. A less preferable way is to avoid finishing among the bottom three, so that a second attempt can be made.
The bad news first. As things stand, USA will find it difficult to finish among the top three teams in Group A. Topping the leaderboard at the moment are the undefeated Ireland and two teams that have lost just one match each - Hong Kong and UAE. These three countries appear comfortably perched and will be difficult to dislodge.
The good news (if there is any) is that Namibia, Italy, Canada, Uganda and USA form the long tail in Group A. USA must now reboot its machinery and see if it can somehow extricate itself from the bottom 3 in the group stage.
Tomorrow's match against a relatively weak Uganda outfit presents an opportunity for USA to lift itself up from the floor. Following that, USA will face two stronger opponents in Hong Kong and UAE. Unless it wins at least one of those two matches, it will likely be the end of the road for USA.
Coming back to today's match against Ireland, the proceedings exposed all of USA's weaknesses, if there were any left unexposed.
Low on bowling confidence, eight bowlers were tried out. As it turns out, Ireland proved to be an equal-opportunity punisher. Ireland captain William Porterfield's pyrotechnics began in Muhammad Ghous' second over, the inning's third, which went for 16 runs. Timroy Allen conceded 20 runs in the fifth over, which was the only over he bowled. Only Danial Ahmed and Karan Ganesh were spared from extreme trauma.
William Porterfield (picture at right), who has a contract with Warwickshire, eventually ended the essay with 127 not out, which featured 11 fours and 5 sixes. The Irish captain thus led his side to their highest T20 total to date.
It is never fun to be staring at an ask of 11 runs per over at the start of a chase. But with the score reading 29 for no loss at the end of the third over, a faint glimmer of hope appeared, which was quickly dispelled when Steve Taylor was caught by George Dockrell at the start of the fourth. Paul Sterling sealed USA's fate in the 7th over in which he took the wickets of Timroy Allen (20) and Srini Santhanam (0). After that, it was just a matter of narrowing the margin of defeat.
Picture: William Porterfield; Credit: ICC/Getty
Full Scorecard and Ball-by-Ball: http://www.icc-cricket.com/match/worldt20q-2013/47