February 12, 2010

UAE

Cusack and O'Brien inspire Ireland win

Sahil Dutta

Ireland 152 for 7 (O'Brien 46, Nawaz 3-23) beat UAE 130 (Ali 63, Cusack 3-23) by 22 runs
Scorecard

UAE crashed to defeat against Ireland, losing five wickets for 14 runs to end their unbeaten record in the tournament and leave Ireland one win away from qualifying for the World Twenty20. Batting first on a sluggish track Ireland did well to reach 152, thanks largely to Niall O'Brien's controlled innings of 46 and some lusty lower-order blows from Gary Wilson. In reply UAE recovered from a bad start to set up their chase nicely, needing 37 from 25 balls with Saqib Ali on 62 and five wickets in hand, before crumbling in dramatic fashion.

Expectations of the two sides could not have been more contrasting coming into the tournament, Ireland were recognised as the best team outside the Test game, while UAE only made it into the event because they were hosts. Yet, after the opening round, it was UAE who were unbeaten, and Ireland who were scrapping to keep themselves in the hunt for a place in the Caribbean.

William Porterfield again got his side off to a positive start, having won the toss and chosen to bat, taking two boundaries from the first over and racing to 22 from 13 balls. But a change of pace proved his undoing as he fell to Ali.

It set the pattern of batsmen making useful contributions without really ramming home the advantage as only O'Brien made it past 22. With wickets steadily falling around him, he resisted the temptation for big shots and relied on quick running in his 43-ball innings. When he was one of three quick wickets to fall in the middle of the innings, Ireland were tottering on 117 for 6 in the 18th over. Gary Wilson then injected some much needed momentum, clubbing two fours and a six to make 19 from seven deliveries.

Ireland carried the momentum into their fielding effort, taking three wickets within the first three overs to reduce UAE to 17 for 3. Captain Khuuram Khan then began a fight back with Ali, before he became one of three victims for Alex Cusack.

With UAE precariously placed, Naeemuddin Aslam joined Ali at the crease and set about constructing a fine 46-run stand that gave UAE a good chance of reaching their target. However, 17-year-old left-arm spinner George Dockrell, who has had a difficult tournament so far, struck a crucial blow, trapping Aslam in front with a quicker ball that skidded on.

It signalled a mighty collapse, with Ali following the next ball, trying to slog Cusack over midwicket and Qadar Nawaz deceived by a slower ball, three deliveries later. Andre Botha mopped up the final two wickets to leave UAE facing a crucial game against Afghanistan and Ireland only needing victory against the Netherlands to secure a place in the Caribbean.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Dutta
Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.

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