Mooney helps Ireland beat spirited Namibia
Ireland 241 (Niall O'Brien 57, Mooney 86, Viljoen 3-38) beat Namibia 215 (Snyman 60, Cusack 3-29) by 26 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Namibia proved they were worthy of being selected from Division 2 to play at the top level of Associate cricket by giving Ireland a tough match in the first of their two 50-over games at Stormont. Ireland needed their No. 8 batsman, John Mooney, to come up with his highest List A score to help them recover from 107 for 6 to a total of 241, which they defended relatively easily.
The four-day Intercontinental Cup match between the two sides, scheduled to be played from June 28, was postponed because the Namibia players did not get their visas in time, a situation former Ireland captain Trent Johnson called a "disgrace" on Twitter. Namibia made it in time for the limited-over games though and announced their arrival by reducing Ireland to 42 for 3 after the hosts had elected to bat. Christi Viljoen got the ball to swing early and claimed the first three wickets. He bowled Paul Stirling and Alex Cusack with inswingers - Cusack shouldered arms to one that came back from outside off - and got William Porterfield to nick one, angled across the left-hander.
Niall O'Brien came in and defended stodgily before hitting Viljoen for two boundaries through midwicket in the 14th over. He and Gary Wilson seemed to have got Ireland out of trouble with their 45-run stand but Namibia struck again, removing Wilson, Andrew White and Kevin O'Brien in the space of 5.3 overs. Niall then reached his half-century and put together 39 runs with Mooney before edging Louis Klazinga to second slip. Mooney, who famously took Ireland home in their win against England during the 2011 World Cup, launched an assault on Namibia in the final 10 overs that got Ireland to a decent total.
He favoured the straight boundaries, hitting both his sixes down the ground, and also used the sweep and paddle-sweep on his way to 86 off 73 balls. He was supported by George Dockrell, who rotated the strike efficiently in a 59-run partnership with Mooney.
Despite the late runs, Namibia would have thought they had a good chance of chasing 242, but they suffered early setbacks. Boyd Rankin beat Ewald Steenkamp for pace, Stirling ran out Gerhard Rudolph, and Cusack removed Craig Williams and Pikky Ya France to leave Namibia 55 for 4. Ireland stayed in control of the match, drying up the runs and picking up two more wickets before Gerrie Snyman and Nicholaas Scholtz put together 71 for the seventh wicket.
The pair never really managed to push the run-rate back up enough to get Namibia into the game, but made sure they got closer to the target. Snyman, who had taken two wickets and two catches, played a cautious knock, hitting just two fours in his 60. Scholtz was more adventurous and smacked a couple of leg-side sixes in his 36. The tailenders continued to entertain: Louis van der Westhuizen smashed 21 runs off five balls from Mooney in the 47th over, hitting him over midwicket, straight, and then over point, and Klazinga hit consecutive sixes too, in the next over, both over long-off. Those hits caused a bit of a flutter for Ireland, as it left Namibia with 31 to get off 15 balls, but they picked up the last two wickets over the next seven balls and sealed the win. Namibia, though, would be pleased to have challenged a team that is considered the best of the Associates.