After a pretty encouraging spell in the field, restricting Zimbabwe to 215 and giving the 30 or so Irish supporters cause to hope for a surprise victory, Ireland contrived to collapse in spectacular fashion in their opening match of the U19 World Cup.

Make no mistake, there is plenty of talent in this Irish side but for whatever reason the team seems to rely heavily on two or three batsmen to make the lion's share of the runs. If those players fail, as they did yesterday, the rest seem reluctant to salvage the situation.

One of those key players is Eoin Morgan. The left-hander from Santry is tipped to become a mainstay of the Middlesex senior batting line-up and he is already a regular in the full Irish team. But so far this trip, in three knocks, he has scored a grand total of 15 runs and yesterday was his most ignominious demise. Looking reasonably good on 13 after hitting two nice boundaries he attempted to paddle-sweep a straight delivery from Kudakwashe Samuderu. His missed and the ball hit. And the Irish groaned.

In the end, no Irish batsman past 20, thanks to a fine spell from opening bowler Keagon Meith (3-12 off nine overs) and Ireland were all out for 97, some 118 short of victory. Wednesday's clash with the much more fancied English team now looks as likely to end in an Irish victory as London to win the Sam Maguire Cup. "It's very disappointing," said Morgan afterwards, not about to put a positive spin, Clive Woodward-style, on such a comprehensive defeat. "Our batting department let us down today and that's a big concern. But we will look forward to the England match on Wednesday. We'll raise our game for that one and hopefully cause a big upset," he said.

What made this defeat so disheartening was that by half-time, Ireland were genuinely in contention to register their first win at this level over a Test nation. Despite some tight bowling by Neil Gill Zimbabwe had started well, getting to 100 for 1 off 20 overs and looking comfortable. But Ireland's spinners tied them down, took a couple of key wickets and restricted them to 215 for 7 off 44 overs (six overs were lost due to an overnight thunderstorm).

Only Samunderu stuck it out, making 61 before holing out to Gill at long-off off the bowling of Andy Poynter. In general, Ireland's fielding was good, much improved from the warm-up games. Gary Wilson, in particular, was superb as he took two catches, one of which had him diving backwards spectacularly on the long-on boundary.

To be fair, when Ireland did bat, Zimbabwe bowled an excellent line but they were surely not as impressive as the Irish made them look. "I think today was down mostly to our bad play," said Morgan. "The score Zimbabwe put up in the first innings wasn't substantial. It was well within our grasp but we just batted badly."

Ireland will train again today and try to pick up the pieces in preparation for the England game. For sure, they will not bat so badly again in this tournament but equally sure is that England coach Andy Pick will not lose much sleep worrying about the game.