Ireland remained in a positive frame of mind despite a 125-run loss to tournament favourites India in the Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka.
The Girls in Green came second best against a very strong Indian line-up but their hopes of qualification remain very much alive.
Indeed, victory on Saturday against bottom side Thailand would all but ensure Super Six qualification and the One-Day International status that accompanies it.
An opening stand of 174 between centurion Thirush Kamani and Deepta Sharma meant Ireland were always playing catch up.
Kamani batted through the innings to score her second ODI hundred which ensured her the Player-of-the-Match accolade, while Sharma’s 89 contained a range of attacking strokes all round the ground.
Kim Garth (1-38) and former skipper Isobel Joyce (1-39) were the pick of the Irish attack as India finished on 250 for 2.
The Irish reply got off to the worst possible start losing Shauna Kavanagh first ball, and with her Pembroke colleague Kim Garth following soon after, it was an ever increasing challenge.
Skipper Laura Delany (21) and Isobel Joyce (31) did their best to salvage the run-chase, but it was 15 year-old Gaby Lewis who was to be the star of the Irish innings, albeit in a losing effort.
The YMCA all-rounder followed up a tidy spell with the ball to top score with 33 as Ireland were dismissed for 125.
Leinster opening bowler Amy Kenealy (20) struck a few lusty blows late on but by then it was very much in a lost cause.
Ireland Head Coach Aaron Hamilton reflected on the defeat saying: “It was a really good batting wicket. I thought we bowled and fielded quite well but we just didn’t get the job done in the second half. India are a very strong side and they played good cricket throughout.
“We struggled at the start of our batting, as we did against Sri Lanka. We hit the fielders a lot and I thought we could have been braver and taken on their bowling more and hit over the top.”
Losing three early wickets doesn’t help anyone, and then scoreboard pressure turns up.
On the role played by Gaby Lewis, Hamilton said: “Gaby is a very impressive cricketer. She is very young and still learning the craft of off-spin but she’s keen to learn, she wants to have a conversation about her bowling and wants to improve every game she plays.
“She has done quite a bit of work with her batting in the off-season, tightening up her technique and trying to hit straighter early in her innings and now we’re seeing the fruits of that. She’s also very athletic and a good fielder so now she just needs to hone those skills and put them all together.
Teenager Lewis was justifiably proud of her all-round efforts against one of the power-houses of the women’s game.
“My first couple of overs weren’t great but then I found some rhythm, and that is the key for me. I thought we fought back well to stop them scoring boundaries towards the end of the innings.
On her batting, the youngster was content to play second fiddle initially, but grew more confident as the innings progressed.
“When I came into bat Izzy was going well, so I just looked to give her the strike. Then wickets were falling around me and I had to take on the main role. It wasn’t easy because they were setting clever fields and cutting off our scoring areas
“India are a very strong side and you learn a lot from playing matches like this. We want to play the best teams so that we can improve and hopefully move up to their level.”