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John Ward in Aberdeen
July 2, 2008
Scotland 211 for 5 (Hamilton 115, Smith 59) beat Ireland 210 for 8 (Haire 54, Nel 4-25) by five wickets
Scotland's chase was dominated by the Yorkshire and England former bowling all-rounder, Hamilton, who is a specialist batsman these days. He began the innings in unusual style, driving the first ball through extra cover and taking an all-run four. He soon lost Ryan Watson, uncharacteristically lobbing an easy catch to mid-off without scoring, but did not let this cramp his style. He found useful support from the debutant Qasim Sheikh (23) and Smith, and reached his 50 off 52 balls.
Thereafter he slowed down somewhat, but by now Scotland were well on course for victory, and there was some very desperate Irish appealing as Smith settled in with him. Smith passed fifty just before the century partnership was reached and then, with another powerful blow past mid-on, Hamilton reached his hundred off 136 balls.
Both batsmen, and Fraser Watts, fell in quick succession before victory was achieved, but these were minor blips and the result was never now in doubt. Andrew White, with two late wickets, returned the best figures, though Kyle McCallan (1 for 34) did a good job in keeping the scoring rate in check during the middle overs. Ireland also maintained a good over rate.
Following their rather frenzied, and unsuccessful, approach against New Zealand yesterday, Ireland decided on steadier measures after they batted on winning the toss. But they were up against some fine seam bowling, and when Gary Wilson, playing the anchor role, was out for 39, with the score 66 for 4 in the 20th over, Ireland were in some trouble. The South African Dewald Nel bowled particularly well in an opening spell of 8-4-16-3.
The pressure eased when he was rested, and a steady partnership between White (34) and Ryan Haire (54) developed, worth 65 in 16 overs as the 100 came up in the 29th over. Haire, who made his debut yesterday, reached his 50 with two successive boundaries, but then unfortunately gave his wicket away with a gentle catch to backward point. At 153 for 7 in the 40th over, Ireland were subsiding slowly in a swamp of mediocrity.
The buck stops with the captain, and McCallan was prepared to accept it. He played himself in carefully and, helped by Thinus Fourie (19 not out), then attacked with the kind of discrimination his team had hitherto been lacking in this tri-series. He hit four fours to score 39 off 38 balls before being out to the final ball of the innings, caught by the keeper flicking down the leg side, making the total 210 for 8.
Nel, with 4 for 25, was the pick of the bowlers, and he was well supported by fellow seamers Blain and Gordon Goudie, who took two wickets each. They also deserve credit for completing their 50 overs with 15 minutes to spare, showing teams such as England that it can and should be done, and it meant a target well within reach of their batsmen especially once Hamilton got going.
After the match, a delighted Hamilton said that "any century is special," and it was particularly good to put one over Ireland. He praised a good pitch, which gave assistance to bowlers who put the ball in the right places, but also enabled batsmen to take advantage of anything loose. McCallan felt that his team had played better than they did against New Zealand, and was glad to see Haire reproduce his club form for the national side.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.