Joyce leads Ireland to crucial win over Scotland
Ireland 159 for 5 (E Joyce 78*, Haq 2-18) beat Scotland 142 for 7 (K Coetzer 62, K O'Brien 3-35) by 17 runs
A fine unbeaten 78 by Ed Joyce guided Ireland towards the knockout phase of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier with a comfortable win over Scotland. With one defeat each before the game, the Celtic nations were vying for second spot in Group B behind Namibia, and although Ireland came good, they now have some serious injury concerns.
John Mooney is out of the rest of the tournament after suffering a torn hamstring while fellow allrounder Alex Cusack is a doubt for the next game. Mooney chased thirty yards and dived to try to catch Preston Mommsen, but fell awkwardly on the rope and instantly signalled for assistance. He remained prone for ten minutes before the Irish coach, Phill Simmons, and physio shouldered him slowly to the dressing room. An announcement on a replacement will be made on Monday.
Porterfield had to juggle his options further when Cusack limped off with a niggle in his groin after bowling two overs. Ireland are well stocked with allrounders though, and Kevin O'Brien was able to step up for his first bowl of the tournament and responded with 3 for 35 off four overs.
Ireland had a dismal start, with Paul Stirling edging tentatively to slip off the first ball he faced from Matthew Parker. The brisk Safayeen Sharif bowled a loosening widish first ball to William Porterfield, only for the Ireland captain to drag it back on to his stumps. It was a dismissal identical to how he fell to James Anderson during the last World Cup.
From 8 for 2 Ireland regrouped around Joyce, with Cusack cutting loose in an over from Parker with four consecutive boundaries. "Alex played a really good innings - it wasn't that big but hitting 18 off one over at that stage took the pressure off," Joyce said. Cusack was stumped off Majid Haq, but Ireland's middle order came good once again. Kevin O'Brien and Gary Wilson upped the run-rate with some clean hitting, Wilson crashing Berrington onto the third deck of the VIP area.
Scotland got their field right in the closing overs and boundaries dried up. There had been just one four in more than six overs when Joyce took guard for the last two balls of the innings. He hit Safayaan Sharif's slower ball over square leg for six, and followed up straight and into the wind for another. "I don't often hit sixes so i think those last two balls were crucial", Joyce said. "Instead of facing seven and a half an over they needed eight, so those hits were useful."
Strangely, for a player who has been one of the most prolific in 50-over cricket in recent English seasons, this was his first fifty in Twenty20, in his 66th game."I always found Twenty20 a hard game to play, as you never know whether to stick or twist", he said.
Scotland's job was all the harder after three balls when Trent Johnston found his way through Richie Berrington's defence. Berrington has batted consistently in the tournament, and had scored a match-winning century when the teams last met over fifty overs. Two balls after Mooney's injury Mommsen tried to pull Johnston and was trapped in front.
The sideshow of the tournament's leading bowler, Boyd Rankin, and leading batsman, Calum McLeod -- teammates at Warwickshire -- promised much. Rankin was the decisive winner here, troubling McLeod twice before the batsman made a mess of his footwork trying to pull and was given out.
Kyle Coetzer - captaining in place of the injured Gordon Drummond - came together with Fraser Watts but after eight overs the asking rate was above 10. Coetzer put Max Sorensen's first two balls over the rope on the straight and made his day even worse when Sorenson dropped him badly at long off.
The pair had put on 78 off 11 overs when Trent Johnston caught Watts off O'Brien, and next ball Jan Stander was sent back, fatally, by Coetzer. The captain completed a 46-ball fifty with a six off Stirling but the run-rate continued to mount and when O'Brien held a sharp return catch in the 19th over it was over as a contest.
Porterfield was resolute in his assessment: "If we win every game from today we'll qualify. That's what we're planning to do."