The toss was even more critical to Ireland's chances. It went against them, and they were asked to bat as the rain clouds gathered over Georgetown's Providence National Stadium. It was a stop-start sort of morning, with teams running off the pitch at regular intervals chased by the groundstaff pulling on the covers in their bright yellow waterproof overalls. Since Ireland beat Pakistan on a green pitch in Jamaica, the wickets have been of an altogether different type. This one had a shine to it and was so hard the sound of the players spikes was audible from the sidelines. Before the game, the South Africa coach Mickey Arthur talked of their plan to target two batsmen and two bowlers on the Ireland team. There is little doubt Jeremy Bray was number one on the list. Since his innings of 115 against Zimbabwe, Bray's every shot has been downloaded on to the lap-tops now routinely carried by the world's top bowlers. He was pinned on the crease by Shaun Pollock, out lbw, in a miserly opening spell of seven overs for 17 runs.
Eoin Morgan and Niall O'Brien moved the innings along, a partnership marked by flicks to leg and sweetly timed off drives by both left-handers. Morgan went, shocked by a short ball from Andrew Hall, caught at mid-wicket and was followed soon after by O'Brien. Andrew White was promoted up the order following some enterprising innings in earlier games, a move designed to add some zip to the middle order. He survived a close lbw call before going on to improvise 30 off 30 balls. He went lamely, shunting a full toss from the part-time off spin of South Africa captain Graham Smith to mid-on. He was followed quickly to the dressing-room by Andre Botha, the South African-born left-hander trudging off sadly, his hopes of a big performance against his former compatriots dashed.
As he has done throughout the tournament, Boyd Rankin made an early breakthrough, this time removing the in-form AB De Villiers in his first over, caught at backward point by William Porterfield. He followed this up with the prized wicket of Hershelle Gibbs. Johnson took an extraordinary catch off his own bowling to remove Graeme Smith. Such feats of athleticism are becoming routine. However, two further chances, one to Rankin of his own bowling and another to Johnston off McCallan's off spin, failed to stick. Yet to put South Africa under such pressure was a great effort.
These Ireland players continue to acquit themselves well against high-class opposition, punching above their weight and demanding they be taken seriously. Another win in the tournament remains a possibility.
Report by Ian Callender in the Belfast Telegraph on April 4th 2007.
Ireland did themselves no favours as they lost their second World Cup Super Eight clash to South Africa at the National Stadium in Georgetown. Trent Johnston's unnecessarily long delay before he went out to bat and his equally long wait before joining the bowling attack allowed the world's number one team to gain the upper hand in both innings.
At 30-1 Johnston chose to replace David Langford-Smith with Paul Mooney, brought into the side in place of Kevin O'Brien. His first over cost 13 runs, his second 10 and in between Boyd Rankin went for 11 as Smith and Kallis got into their stride. When Johnston eventually came on, he got a wicket with his seventh ball. Rankin spoiled an impeccable seven-over spell when he failed to hold on to a return catch offered by Kallis who was also missed five runs later by Johnston, round the corner, off Kyle McCallan. The first chance was to cost 26 runs as Kallis finished 66 not out.
By the time the Ireland innings began in earnest, they were 23-1 from 11 overs. Jeremy Bray failed to survive even the first of the three rain breaks, being lbw to Shaun Pollock, so it was William Porterfield and Eoin Morgan who resumed the innings for a third time. Within three overs of the resumption, Porterfield was also back in the pavilion, caught at cover and Niall O'Brien had faced 11 balls without scoring. It was worth waiting for O'Brien to get off the mark, however, as Northamptonshire's new signing soon produced his full range of strokes and was enjoying a wonderful battle with Langeveldt. The bowler ripped one past O'Brien's nose and the batsman responded next ball with a glorious drive, on the up to the extra-cover boundary. At the other end Morgan, as he has done in almost every innings on this trip, was looking a million dollars and with his fourth boundary went past his previous best score of 21. He still cannot get out of the 20s though, this time edging a brute of a delivery from Hall which reared off a length. Three overs later Langeveldt won the battle with O'Brien, but only after another cracking four through mid-off. Next ball, though, was the slower one and it popped straight up off a mixture of glove and bat and Gibbs took the catch.
With Ireland on 77-4 and only 12 overs remaining, the situation was crying out for Johnston to walk to the middle, but Andre Botha joined Andrew White and while they put on 39 in the next six overs, Botha could manage only ones and twos while his captain, capable of clearing the boundary off good length balls, was watching from the dressing-room. Even when he did arrive, after the fall of White's wicket at the end of the 29th over, Johnston faced only four balls in the next two overs as three wickets fell, including Mooney, first ball, on his World Cup debut. That left David Langford-Smith facing the hat-trick and he not only prevented that but proceded to club Langeveldt for six over mid-wicket and followed up with a four in the next over.
Man of the Match award went to Jacques Kallis of South Africa.