International Cricket

T20 World Cup – CAN vs IRE – Jeremy Gordon gets job done to help Canada banish memories of USA defeat

A week ago, Canada fast bowler Jeremy Gordon was thrown the ball to rein in a surging USA side. The previous over had leaked 20, but Gordon had bowled a tight couple of overs, and with USA still needing just under ten an over, Canada entrusted him to tighten the screws.

Instead, in a nightmarish sequence of events, Gordon sent down an 11-ball over that saw 33 plundered off it – the second-most expensive over in T20I history. The US target was down to a run-a-ball, and they cruised to victory.

Little wonder, then, that Gordon felt he had amends to make against Ireland. “I personally felt my over is what gave away the last game,” he said. “To make a comeback and help the team get over the line makes me feel I’ve done a good job and makes me quite happy. It’s very emotional.”

Gordon has reason to be proud. Opening the bowling in defence of 137, he homed in on the back-of-a-length area. The New York strip came in for heavy criticism following India’s match against Ireland, including from the ICC itself. While the wicket was much truer on this occasion, Gordon still understood how to exploit the conditions.

“I realised when Ireland bowled first that when they hit the back of a length, it was sometimes over the batter’s shoulder and sometimes kept a bit low. So I thought ‘why should I change that?’

“I was overthinking in the first game. Here, I realised the pitch was in my favour because of the variable bounce. So if I hit that 7-8m length and target a line on the body or just towards the off stump I figured I’d give myself a good chance to defend the total.”

It was precisely how Ireland’s first wicket fell. Canada were keeping things tight, and Gordon banged another one in back of a length. Paul Stirling, Ireland’s captain, had scored just 9 off 16, and the pressure told as he attempted a swipe across the line that was never truly on. The ball reared up and drew the top edge.

But having seen the game slip away at the death against USA, it was more satisfying for Gordon to return and finish Ireland off in the final over. Ireland needed 17 to win, and he followed up the trademark short-of-a-length ball with another. Mark Adair, Ireland’s last remaining hope of victory, tried to slap it towards midwicket but only ballooned it back up to Gordon, who took a straightforward catch. He would concede just four, and finish with figures of 4-0-16-2.

“There’s definitely a lot of confidence now,” he said. “For us it’s about doing the basics right and to be disciplined. It’s about not getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll appreciate the win and then go back to the drawing board. It’s going to be Pakistan and India next, two of the better teams in the world currently. If we’re disciplined in all three areas, we might give a good account for ourselves on the day and then who knows what could happen.”

Part of the intrigue of the game, though, concerned the pitch and ground conditions, particularly as the stadium gears up for it’s biggest clash on Sunday. India will take on Pakistan, so it wasn’t just the Canadians and the Irish interested to see how the surface held up after the tournament organisers were left scrambling to ensure their biggest game would not be played in subpar conditions.

Though the improvement from the Ireland-India game was noticeable, Player of the Match, Nicholas Kirton, who scored 49 off 35 for Canada, felt it was far from ideal.

“It wasn’t that easy to bat on this wicket, trust me,” he said at the post-match presentations. “I just tried to get in and get to grips with the pace of the wicket. There was an area in the middle of the wicket that played a bit up and down. I tried to stay as still as possible and get a good base. The outfield is a bit slow and I focused on running hard, but other than that it was a pretty good wicket to bat on.”

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000

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