Ireland have continued their winning start to the 2015 World Cup by beating the United Arab Emirates by two wickets in Brisbane. The outcome of the game was not as straightforward as many had predicted with Ireland eventually emerging victorious in the final over with the game’s result in doubt for long periods.
In their previous game Ireland had beaten the West Indies by four wickets in Nelson whilst the UAE had been defeated by Zimbabwe, by the same margin, in their opening game of the World Cup.
Favourites Ireland won the toss and decided to field first once again, possibly influenced by their fantastic run-chase against the West Indies in their previous game and the confidence that they gained from that.
The UAE began solidly, if not spectacularly, as they added 49 for the opening wicket. Despite opener Amjad Ali (45) and Khurram Khan (36) impressing early on the UAE slumped to 78-4 and 131-6 as Ireland applied the pressure.
UAE were looking for a partnership to steady the ship and they found one as Shaiman Anwar (106) and Amjad Javed (42) produced a seventh-wicket partnership of 107 as the UAE looked to post a challenging score.
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Anwar hit ten fours and a six in his 83 ball innings as he registered his first ODI century whilst Javed took just 35 balls, with five fours, to reach his 42.
Whilst the partnership was hugely important to the UAE, as they posted a competitive score of 278-9 from their 50 overs, they will be disappointed that more of their batsmen couldn’t contribute to a score of around 300+ which will have placed Ireland under huge pressure.
Wickets were shared evenly across the Irish bowlers with Paul Stirling (2-27) and Alex Cusack (2-54) the pick.
With winning first-innings scores regularly over 300 in this World Cup Ireland were very confident of chasing down the target even though they lost opener Paul Stirling (3) with just four runs on the board.
However, the run-chase didn’t all go to plan as they too lost wickets regularly. At 97-4 the game was in the balance as Ireland could not find a batsmen who could mount a significant score.
William Porterfield (37), Ed Joyce (37) and Andrew Balbirnie (30) all made solid contributions but were not able to go on with their innings.
However, it was Ireland’s middle-order that came to the rescue as wicket-keeper Gary Wilson (80) and Kevin O’Brien (50) ensured that their team kept up with the required run-rate at a crucial time. Both players scored at more than a run a ball but it was O’Brien’s 50 in just 25 balls that gave the Irish the impetus that their innings demanded and put them in the driving seat.
Despite losing more wickets, with Wilson being dismissed with just 12 runs required, it was left to George Dockrell to hit the winning runs in the last over to give the Irish a hard-earned two-wicket victory.
A quarter-final place for the Irish is now looking a real possibility as they continue to fly the flag for the associate nations. However, they will need to perform better than this if they are to beat another of the Test playing nations in the tournament.
Both sides will face daunting opposition in their next games as Ireland face South Africa in Canberra whilst the UAE will play the holders India in Perth.