Porterfield hundred sinks Scotland
Ireland 233 for 3 (Porterfield 101, Morgan 69) beat Scotland 232 for 7 (McCallum 121, Rankin 2-27) by seven wickets
William Porterfield led from the front with a fine 101 as Ireland cruised to a seven-wicket thumping of their old rivals Scotland in the opening fixture of the World Cup Qualifiers. Ireland, chasing a below-par 233 on a flat deck, reached the target for the loss of just three wickets and Porterfield was given fine support by Eoin Morgan whose elegant 60 came from just 56 balls.
A sparse but vocal crowd at Willowmore Park were treated to an innings of real authority and class by Porterfield, who was out of the traps almost immediately. On a cloudy but warm day, he took advantage of Dewald Nel's inconsistent length, driving him for four down the ground before lifting one of three sixes over midwicket. Nel, who conceded 39 from six wayward overs, was guilty of bowling too short, though Calum MacLeod did pick up the early wicket of Gary Wilson.
Thereafter Porterfield and Morgan dominated in a second-wicket stand worth 131 in just nineteen overs. Porterfield raced through the forties with four of the crispest drives off Craig Wright, all timed beautifully, while Morgan also began to open his arms when he flung Jan Stander over midwicket onto the grassy, crowd-less bank. Ireland's hundred came up after just 96 balls as Porterfield brought up his fifty in just 35 balls. Unlike Ireland earlier in the day, Scotland's fielding - normally one of their strongest suits - was disappointing for a side who insist they are the best prepared Scotland has produced in years.
MacLeod apart (1 for 27 from six tidy overs), Scotland's bowlers simply couldn't tie the batsmen down and Morgan was characteristically impish at picking the gaps. A nonchalant nudge over the top of Iqbal's head sailed for six, soon after reaching fifty from 48 balls. He fell attempting his favoured reverse-sweep, but by then Ireland needed a facile 59 from more than 24 overs. Porterfield's third ODI hundred came with a crunching back-foot drive before Wright finally clawed back some respect to bowl him, and Niall O'Brien tied up proceedings with an uncharacteristically patient 25.
Impressive though Porterfield was, Ireland's bowlers let themselves down in the latter half of Scotland's innings, allowing Neil McCallum to notch only his second one-day hundred and, in doing so, set Ireland a reasonably challenging total. Scotland were reduced to 24 for 4, unable to cope with the impressively disciplined lines of Boyd Rankin, but in particular his height. His time at Warwickshire has been well-spent; his body is stronger and he bowled a tight off-stump line, troubling all the batsmen with his pace and bounce. Well-supported by Peter Connell, who picked up 2 for 51, Ireland were in control until McCallum's late burst, during which he smacked 12 fours and three towering sixes, but he was given little support from anyone else. The next highest score came from Kyle Coetzer with 29.
Ireland now take on Oman in Krugersdorp on Thursday while Scotland face Namibia in Pretoria.
Will Luke is assistant editor of Cricinfo