ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018, Super Sixes, Match 4, Review: Balbirnie’s ton gives Ireland a crucial win over Scotland
Ireland beat Scotland by 25 runs.
Updated - Mar 18, 2018 8:21 pm
The ICC World Cup Qualifiers is nearing the business end of the tournament. With the stakes being so high, and very few fixtures left to be played in the tournament, all matches are becoming key fixtures. In the most recent Super Sixes fixture, the European rivals Scotland and Ireland locked horns in Harare. The stage was set for an exciting game.
The two sides have a good sporting history and hence, the match was expected to live up to all the expectations. Coming to the game, it was Scotland who won the toss and opted to bowl first. Ireland had a troubled start with Paul Stirling getting dismissed for a duck in the very first over of the match by Bradley Wheal.
Skipper William Porterfield also had a short stay at the crease with Wheal dismissing him on 17. Andrew Balbirnie and Niall O’Brien were left with the task of rebuilding the Irish innings. The two batsman showed great composure to get their eyes in at the wicket.
Soon, the runs started flowing easily as well. Both batsmen reached their individual fifties in the process of rebuilding the innings. They stitched a marathon partnership of 138 runs for the third wicket before a run out in the 38th over saw O’Brien head back to the pavilion with 70 to his name. His brother, Kevin O’Brien, replaced him at the crease.
The Ireland score tickled past the 200-run mark soon after and Balbirnie went on to score a brilliant century on the day. He could not add much to his score after that though. He was dismissed by Mark Watt on 105 (146) in the 45th over. A cavalcade of wickets followed as Kevin held one end with a quick 27-ball 46. Ireland finished with 271/9 in their stipulated 50 overs. For Scotland, Wheal was the pick of the bowlers with 3/43 to his name.
And the run chase
In the run chase, the Scottish openers, Matthew Cross and Kyle Coetzer, got off to a decent start before Tim Murtagh bowled a fiery spell up front. He accounted for the dismissal of Cross on 18. Calum MacLeod joined Coetzer at the crease. A 68-run stand between the two veteran players followed. It was Simi Singh who got the big breakthrough for the Irish in the 19th over when he managed to dismiss MacLeod on 21 (34).
Richie Berrington, the hard hitting batsman, was in next. Before he could get going, the other set batsman at the crease, Coetzer was cleaned up by Boyd Rankin. Coetzer scored a well compiled 61 off just 70 deliveries with 7 fours and a six. Just when the Scots looked in command of the game, Ireland were able to get a breakthrough to put the brakes on.
Wickets fell in quick succession as Scotland slumped from 112/2 to 132/6. Berrington (44) and Safyaan Sharif (34) added notable contributions to keep the scorecard ticking. Towards the end, Mark Watt remained unbeaten on 31 off just 19 deliveries as he ran out of partners at the other end.
Scotland were bowled out for 246 in 47.4 overs. Veteran campaigner Boyd Rankin returned with figures of 4/63 to be the pick of the bowlers as Murtagh and Barry McCarthy scalped two each. Ireland won by 25 runs.
Ireland 271/9 in 50 overs (Balbirnie 105, Niall 70, Wheal 3/43, Sharif 2/52)
Scotland 246/10 in 47.4 overs (Coetzer 61, Berrington 44, Rankin 4/63, McCarthy 2/44)