Ireland send cricket World Cup bosses reeling

Ireland's sensational World Cup victory over England left Andrew Strauss's Ashes winners battling to salvage their credibility on Thursday and sent international cricket bosses reeling.

Ireland struck a major blow for the game's second tier nations with their three-wicket win in Bangalore which saw Kevin O'Brien smash the fastest World Cup hundred and the underdogs pull off the highest successful run chase.

The victory, already regarded as the biggest shock in the history of the tournament, eclipsing even Ireland's own win over Pakistan in 2007, predictably had England's demanding media sharpening their knives.

"England were left looking like a pub side," said the tabloid Sun newspaper.

Ireland won with five balls to spare as they finished on 329 for seven after England had been cruising when they reduced their opponents to 111 for five.

But O'Brien's brutal hitting, which brought him a century off 50 balls, turned the match on its head.

"Over the years, England's national sports teams have been on the wrong end of some infamous defeats," said the Daily Telegraph.

"Until yesterday, America's 1-0 victory in the football World Cup of 1950 was probably the most notorious. But the extraordinary triumph of Ireland's cricketers must rank alongside any sporting upset of yore."

The 26-year-old O'Brien, who was eventually out for a whirlwind 113 off 63 balls, plays for humble Irish club side Railway Union, but already has his sights set on an Indian Premier League contract.

"Who wouldn't want to play in the IPL? A lot of people have said that Twenty20 suits me, the way I swing the bat and hit a few sixes," said O'Brien.

Ireland captain William Porterfield threw down the gauntlet to the International Cricket Council, which is cutting the number of teams at the next World Cup from 14 to 10, reducing the chances for the smaller nations to take part.

"The ICC have made a decision and it's out of our hands," said Porterfield.

"It's pretty disappointing cutting the teams to 10. I personally think there needs to be some kind of qualification."

England, who next tackle South Africa in Chennai on Sunday, were trying to shrug off the setback which could cost them a quarter-final place.

"The sun has risen today. Yesterday is gone and all we have to do is put it right in the next games," said batsman Kevin Pietersen on his Twitter account.

In Mohali, South Africa piled up 351-5 against the Netherlands with AB de Villiers and opener Hashim Amla both hitting centuries and putting on 221 for the third wicket.

De Villiers made 134 off 98 balls with 13 fours and four sixes for a second successive century at this World Cup while Amla hit 113 off 130 balls with eight fours.

JP Duminy contributed a 15-ball 40 as the Proteas, who defeated the West Indies in their only match so far, aim for another win which will put them top of Group B.

"It nipped around quite a bit and obviously it's quite overcast so it did swing a little bit as well," said Amla. "Hopefully 350-odd is going to be a good total."

In Colombo, Pakistan look to make it three wins in three games in Group A when they face Canada, who have suffered two heavy defeats so far and, unlike Ireland, have looked like an associate nation hopelessly out of their depth.

 

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