European trio set to qualify for ICC World Twenty20 2009 World Cup 2009
Ireland and the Netherlands qualified for the ICC World Twenty 2009 in England when they recorded victories of contrasting styles in the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at Stormont in Belfast, Ireland on Monday.
While the top-seeded home team stuttered to a four-wicket victory over Kenya with five balls to spare, the Netherlands coasted to a comfortable five-wicket success over Scotland with 12 balls remaining.
In the third and fourth-place play-off, openers Kyle Coetzer and Ryan Watson put on 102 runs for the first wicket as Scotland thumped the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 semi-finalist Kenya by nine wickets with 11 balls to spare.
It was the joint-fifth best first wicket partnership in the history of Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) after Australia's Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist scored 102 against Bangladesh at Cape Town during last year's ICC World Twenty20.
Captain Watson scored 54 off 61 balls with six fours while Durham's Coetzer stayed undefeated on 48 from 45 balls with five fours and a six. Watson was later declared man of the match.
By virtue of securing berths in Tuesday's final, Ireland and the Netherlands have been guaranteed places in the 12-team ICC World Twenty20 2009 to be staged at Lord's, The Oval and Trent Bridge next year
The inclusion of Scotland for next year's event is dependent on Zimbabwe Cricket's Board ratifying a decision taken by its officials during ICC Annual Conference week, to step back from the tournament.
If Zimbabwe confirms it won't play, the top Associate from the Belfast event will take Zimbabwe's place in Group A (with India and Bangladesh), the losing finalist will ease into Group B (with England and Pakistan) and the third place side takes a position in Group D (with South Africa and New Zealand).
However, if Zimbabwe opts not to ratify its earlier decision to step back from the tournament, the top Associate will join England and Pakistan in Group B and the losing finalists will form Group D with South Africa and New Zealand.
The semi-finals results means the ICC World Twenty20 2009 will certainly have two new teams in the competition while Scotland, which played in the inaugural event last year along with Kenya, will know in due course whether or not it will be in England.
Commenting on the results Richard Holdsworth, ICC European Development Manager said, "That the top three places in this qualifier went to three European Associates is a reflection of how the game in Europe is continuing to strengthen and grow, particularly within Europe's High Performance countries."
He added, "These results are a credit to the commitment and dedication of the squads and their support staff and the excellent behind-the-scene work being carried out by the leaders and administrators of cricket within these three countries."
After taking the hardest possible road to the semi-final stage thanks to a last-gasp win over Bermuda on Sunday and a penultimate-ball victory over Scotland on Saturday, Ireland bowled beautifully to knock the second-seeded African side over for 67 in 17.2 overs.
But the home team's batsmen made heavy weather of the small target before achieving success with five balls to spare.
Ireland was cruising nicely at 41-2 in 11.3 overs before it lost three wickets in six balls to slump to 44-5 which soon became 49-6 in 15.4 overs. At that stage, Kevin O'Brien (17 not out) played a little gem of an innings to ensure the top-seeded team avoided defeat.
"I am delighted at our achievement. It's a great feeling to have qualified for next year's tournament," said Ireland captain William Porterfield.
"I still remember the dressing room atmosphere after our third defeat (in the ICC WCL Div.1 in Nairobi) and we wanted to avoid that situation this time. Kenya is always a tough opponent but we played really well to win the semi-final.
"I think the conditions for batting are slightly difficult and even though we have depth in our batting, we have struggled to win our matches convincingly despite chasing small totals. But we are improving and I am sure we will arrive in England next year as a much improved side," Porterfield said.
Earlier, Porterfield won an important toss and the bowlers justified his decision by bowling to a teasing line and length with controlled accuracy.
That accuracy of the Ireland bowlers can be judged from the fact that four Kenya batsmen were clean bowled, openers Morris Ouma and Kennedy Otieno were smartly caught off leading edges while Nehemiah Odhiambo and Steve Tikolo were trapped in front of the wicket playing across the line.
All-rounder Andre Botha led the Ireland bowlers charge and finished with figures of 3-20 while Alex Cusack, Kevin O'Brien and Peter Connell shared six wickets between them. Botha, who later chipped in with a valuable 22, was declared man of the match.
In the second semi-final, man of the match Ryan ten Doeschate produced a fine all-round performance to inspire the Netherlands to an easy five-wicket win over Scotland.
Essex's ten Doeschate grabbed 3-23 to peg Scotland to 107-8 in 20 overs after Kyle Coetzer (40) and Ryan Watson (22) had provided their team with a 54-run opening start, the highest first wicket partnership of the tournament to that point.
Scotland did itself no favours in the closing stages of its innings when it could add only 37 runs in the last 6.1 overs while losing seven wickets.
Ten Doeschate, in the target chase, returned unbeaten on 24 from 14 balls with a six and a four as the Netherlands wrapped up with match in 18 overs. Eric Szwarzcyniski (31), Tom de Grooth (24) and Peter Borren (16 not out) also made valuable contributions.
For the final, the Netherlands will not have the services of ten Doeschate who is required on Essex duty in the county championship in the UK. "It will be a big loss but we have players who can rise to the occasion, take responsibility and deliver the final punch," said the Netherlands captain Jerome Smits.
"It is big moment for Dutch cricket that we will be in England next year after missing the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1999. I am sure there will be a lot of people following us next year and cricket will get its right attention.
"I think today we showed our true character. We bowled well and batted sensibly and if we can repeat this performance tomorrow, we can win the tournament. I have the highest respect for Ireland but I believe we are a better team than them and that's what we need to show them tomorrow," said Smits.
Scores in brief
Ireland beat Kenya by four wickets
Kenya 67 all out, 17.2 overs (Steve Tikolo 13, Thomas Odoyo 11; Andre Botha 3-20, Alex Cusack 2-3, Kevin O'Brien 2-15, Peter Connell 2-16)
Ireland 72-6, 19.1 overs (Andre Botha 22; Kevin O'Brien 17 not out, Niall O'Brien 11, James Kamande 2-11, Ragheb Aga 2-12, Thomas Odoyo 2-13)
The Netherlands beat Scotland by five wickets
Scotland 107-8, 20 overs (Kyle Coetzer 40, Navdeep Poonia 26, Ryan Watson 22; Ryan ten Doeschate 3-23)
Netherlands 110-5, 18 overs (Eric Szwarzcyniski 31, Ryan ten Doeschate 24 not out, Tom de Grooth 24, Peter Borren 16 not out; Richard Berrington 2-22, John Blain 2-24)
Third and fourth-place play-off
Scotland beat Kenya by nine wickets
Kenya 106-9, 20 overs (Ragheb Aga 28, Steve Tikolo 19; Dewald Nel 3-10, Richard Berrington 2-22)
Scotland 107-1, 18.1 overs (Ryan Watson 54, Kyle Coetzer 48 not out)
0930 Fifth and sixth-place play-off: Canada v Bermuda
1300 Final: Ireland v the Netherlands
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