The fourth match of the Super Six Stages of ICC World Cup Qualifiers witnessed heavyweights Ireland and Scotland face off at the Harare Sports Club.
Want to be a professional cricketer?
Irish, after suffering defeat at the hands of the hosts Zimbabwe, needed to win their fixture against the Scots. The latter won the toss and elected to field first, putting Ireland bat.
Scotland’s Bradley Wheal was almost lethal with the new ball as he sent back the two Irish openers, William Porterfield and Paul Stirling, cheaply.
The men in green were off to a sluggish start carrying the hangover from the St. Pattrick’s Day. However, young Andrew Balbirnie and veteran Niall O’Brien withered the early storm and stitched a match-winning partnership of 138 off 26 and a half overs.
Balbirnie struck only his second ODI to the Irish colours with his watchful knock of 105 which came off 1465 deliveries. The right-hand batter scored ten boundaries in his knock.
Niall O’Brien, on the other hand, scored a run-a-ball 70, keeping a check on the run-rate with Balbernie scoring at a rate of only 71. The fireworks in the Irish batting efforts was provided by his brother Kevin, who scored a 27-ball 46.
Kevin O’Brien struck at a rate of 170, which included five mesmerising boundaries and a couple of towering sixes. With the score at 241-3 and five overs to go, Ireland was expected to reach at least 290.
However, a mini-collapse at the backend restricted the Irish to only 271 for the loss of nine wickets. Bradley Wheal was the pick of the bowlers as he ended up three wickets in his ten overs and conceded only 36. Safyaan Sharif also chipped in with a couple of wickets at the other end.
Chasing an above par total, the Scotts faced a lethal spell from Boyd Rankin who constantly chipped in with wickets at regular interval.
Matthew Cross and Calum MacLeod gave away their promising starts early on. Moreover, their captain Kyle Coetzer kept the run chase alive with his quick fire 61 off 70 balls. The skipper hit seven breathtaking boundaries and a maximum in his knock.
That said, Scotland throughout their innings could not stitch one big partnership and left themselves too much to do at the back end of the innings.
Berrington and Safyaan Sharif promised to give their side an outside chance with 93 required of the final ten overs. Even the outside chance was taken out by Ireland as Murtagh clinched the wicket of Berrington.
Mark Watt and Wheal kept the Scottish hopes alive with their respective cameos. Even though Scotland fought until the last wicket, it was Ireland held their nerves.
In the end, it was a comfortable victory for the men in green who overhauled Scotland by a margin of 25 runs and clinch a crucial couple of points to keep their Super Six campaign up and running. Balbirnie was awarded as the man of the match for his efforts.
Ireland 271-9 (50); Andrew Balbirnie 105 (146), Niall O Brien 70 (70), Bradley Wheal 3/43
Scotland 246-10 (47.4), Kyle Coetzer 61 (70), Boyd Rankin 4/63
Ireland won by 25 runs