In truth the Irish never really looked in trouble and certainly played well within their capabilities but there was a lack of fluency and cohesiveness in a team that hadn’t been together for long ahead of this match.
The bad news for other teams in the tournament is that with the quality available to Ireland coach John Bracewell, any rustiness is unlikely to last long and, afterwards, most of the players seemed happy to have negotiated the first hurdle successfully knowing that bigger challenges lie ahead.
From there it was really the spinners who did the damage. George Dockrell took 2-15 off four overs and Paul Stirling 1-20, including two sixes in his final over to ruin what otherwise would have been immaculate figures.
In reply, things did not go all Ireland’s way. Stirling was out in the first over as a miss-hit drive was well held at short cover by Baard. But the experienced Niall O’Brien and William Porterfield did not panic, knowing that a run-a-ball partnership was all they needed to see their side home.
There were a couple of hiccups before they got there with O’Brien falling to a catch from Craig Williams and then his brother, Kevin, departing the same way soon after. But a cameo from Andrew Balbirnie (18 not out) and an unbeaten 56 from Porterfield ensured the home crowd in Belfast were satisfied.
While man-of-the-match Mooney was happy overall with the result, he knows there is still work to be done as this tournament progresses.
“I’m not 100 per cent pleased, to be honest, because I bowled a wide and got hit for six off my last ball,” he said afterwards.
“More importantly we got the win – it was a great start. Namibia have beaten us before in this tournament so it was crucial to beat them in the first game. I bowled a good over first over and they didn’t get any runs off it but Cusie (Alex Cusack) bowled well also.”
Mooney was quick to close down any thoughts that Ireland was enjoying the prospect of being in the perceived weaker group.
“Every game is going to be difficult. I haven’t even looked at the other group because it doesn’t affect me until the semi-finals, if we get there. In our next game, I see us beating USA if we play properly but if we take our eyes off the ball it will be another difficult game. We’ll treat them exactly as we would any other team and hopefully we’ll get the positive result,” said the 33-year-old Dubliner.
In the other games of the day, an impressive bowling and fielding display by the USA was almost enough to prevent Nepal from registering its first win of the tournament with Jasdeep Singh and Hammad Shahid running in with good pace and hostility as they sought to defend a low total of 121 at Stormont. The Nepalese got there in the end but they were taken to the final over by the plucky Americans and needed the cool head of skipper Paras Khadka to see them home under pressure.
Meanwhile, Canada squandered a strong position at Myreside in Edinburgh to lose to Kenya by seven wickets. Batting first, the Canucks were 82-0 after nine overs but they lost all their momentum and struggled to 145-5 after 20, a total Kenya reached easily enough, with nine balls to spare.
Also in Edinburgh, UAE made Afghanistan fight hard for victory at the Grange having posted a very competitive 164-6 off their 20 overs. But 74 off 37 balls from Mohammad Shahzad (not to be confused with the UAE batsman of the same name) and an unbeaten 44 from captain Asghar Stanikzai saw the Afghans home by eight wickets.
Fri, 10 July
At Stormont: Namibia 124-8, 20 overs (JJ Smit 21; John Mooney 3-23, George Dockrell 2-15)
Ireland 128-3, 17.2 overs (William Porterfield 56 not out, Niall O’Brien 45)
Ireland won by seven wickets
At Stormont: USA 121 all out, 20 overs (Akeem Dodson 39; Shakti Gauchan 3-16, Basant Regmi 3-24, Sompal Kami 2-22)
Nepal 122-4, 19.4 overs (Gyanendra Malla 52, Anil Mandal 29; Jasdeep 2-23)
Nepal won by six wickets
At Myreside: Canada 143-5, 20 overs (Ruvindu Gunasekera 51, Rizwan Cheema 35; Nelson Odhiambo 2-22)
Kenya 146-3, 18.3 overs (Irfan Karim 74 not out, Morris Ouma 34 not out; Jeremy Gordon 2-23)
Kenya won by seven wickets
At the Grange: UAE 164-6, 20 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 43, Shaiman Anwar 35; Mirwais Ashraf 2-21, Hamid Hassan 2-29)
Afghanistan 168-2, 17.2 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 74, Asghar Stanikzai 44 not out, Samiullah Shenwari 30 not out)
Afghanistan won by eight wickets
Sat, 11 July – Hong Kong v Jersey, Bready, Co. Tyrone (1000-1310); Scotland v Netherlands, The Grange, Edinburgh (1000-1310); Kenya v Oman, Myreside, Edinburgh (1000-1310); Nepal v Namibia, Stormont, Belfast (1415-1725)