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Ireland overcomes the rain – and Scotland

Fri, Aug 1, 2008 1:35 PM


The net run rate situation meant that Ireland had to beat Scotland on Thursday to retain its ICC European Division 1 title, and win it the Irish did, despite the dreadful weather.

Heavy overnight rain and persistent showers during the morning delayed the start until 14:15, and by then the game had been reduced to 36 overs. William Porterfield won the toss and put Scotland in, thereby giving his side a crucial advantage.

Yet the Scots got away to a great start, Gavin Hamilton and Ryan Watson putting on 60 in 8.3 overs before Hamilton was bowled by Alex Cusack, who had replaced the expensive Peter Connell, for 21.

André Botha, on for Kevin O'Brien at the other end, soon dismissed Qasim Sheikh, but Watson and Colin Smith got the total up to 91 before Kyle McCallan came into the attack.

Watson, who had brought up his half-century a couple of overs earlier, danced down the pitch to the spinner's second ball and was stumped, stranded well out of his ground, by Niall O'Brien. The Scottish captain made exactly 50, off 44 balls with six fours and a six.

Almost immediately, a further shower drove the players from the field, and a short delay led to the loss of another over.

Smith followed the same way in McCallan's next over after the resumption, and when Neil McCallum was caught behind off Connell in the one after that, Scotland had lost three wickets in eighteen balls and was suddenly 100 for five.

This put the Irish in the box seat, and they never relaxed their position thereafter.

Connell added Fraser Watts's scalp, and McCallan completed his seven-over stint by trapping Majid Haq leg-before to finish with three for 10.

John Blain and Gordon Drummond pushed the ball around in the closing overs to get the total up to 150, and the innings closed on 152 for nine.

The Duckworth/Lewis calculation added one run to the par score, so Ireland was chasing 154 from 35 overs.

Blain and Dewald Nel started well, and in the fifth over Blain broke through Porterfield's defences and Ireland was 19 for one.

Two overs later the rain intervened again, and this time the break was long enough to cut a further eight overs off the Irish innings, reducing the target to 128 from 27. The Scottish task had already been difficult enough; with 101 now needed from 20 overs and nine wickets in hand, it became well-nigh impossible.

Gary Wilson was batting with great confidence, and although Ritchie Berrington bowled Niall O'Brien soon after the resumption, Botha now imposed his commanding presence on events.

Watson switched his bowlers with startling frequency, but Wilson and Botha added 77 in 13 overs and never looked in any real difficulty.

Wilson brought up his first ODI half-century with 16 still needed, but in Haq's next over, with Ireland nine short of their target, he lofted the Scottish spinner to John Blain at long on.

Botha was on 47 at this point, but Kevin O'Brien denied him a well-deserved fifty by smacking Drummond for a four and a six to give Ireland the win.

It had been a great team effort, produced when the chips were down, and the Irish record of twelve European Championship matches without defeat is testimony to their dominance at this level.

The heavy and persistent rain over Dublin put paid to the two other matches in the final round of the European Championship, with neither of Norway's clash against Italy nor the Danes' encounter with the Dutch reaching a conclusion.

Indeed, that latter match did not even get started at The Hills. This washout means that Freddie Klokker's team will finish in a more than creditable third position and the Netherlands in fourth, ahead of Italy only by virtue of a superior run rate.

At Malahide, however, there was some play, with the Italians racing to 127 for two from only seventeen overs against Norway. The length of match had been cut there, too, but when the rains returned at around five o'clock conditions became insuperable.

During what play was possible Alessandro Bonora had starred for the Italians, smashing 60 from just 44 balls (including six boundaries) and he was well supported by Andy Northcote, with whom he put on 98 for the second wicket. Northcote himself reached 41 (made off 46 balls, with three fours) before the deluge.

In the end, it has been an impressive week for the Italians, with Peter Petricola a contender for the player-of-the-tournament award, but a chastening experience for the Norwegians, who will no doubt seek to regroup and improve over the close season.



Live scores, match reports, photos and much more from all the European Championships can be found on the ICC Europe website at www.icc-europe.org



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