Ireland v Uganda, ICC World T20 Qualifier, Dubai March 19, 2012

Ireland in playoffs after massive win

Gerard Siggins

Ireland 179 for 5 (Porterfield 53, Stirling 41, O'Brien 39) beat Uganda 97 (Dockrell 3-26, O'Brien 2-7) by 82 runs

Ireland trounced Uganda by 82 runs in Dubai to put them in the playoff stages of the World Cup qualifiers. The victory margin matches Ireland's best in terms of runs, achieved in its first ever Twenty20 game, against Bangladesh A in 2008.

It was a game Ireland dominated from the start, with loose Uganda bowling allowing William Porterfield and Paul Stirling to race away with a stand of 78 off 7.2 overs, setting up a huge total of 179. Uganda never threatened to chase that and were bowled out in the final over.

Stirling, who has had a quiet tournament, was relieved to tee off in this compact, club-style ground complete with picket fences. Deusdedit Muhumuza's first over went for 21, and a second six was comically spilled by an Irish fan over the long-on boundary. He tried the shot once too often, and his hoick off the captain Davis Arinaitwe was held in the outfield by Arthur Kyobe. Ed Joyce didn't stay long but Gary Wilson kept Porterfield company for five overs. Porterfield made his second fifty of the week - off 39 balls - before Frank Nsubuga trapped him in front.

Ireland's rate slowed down as the boundaries dried up, hitting just two fours between the 7th and 17th overs, but the following over was a blaze. Twenty-eight runs flowed, mostly from the bat of Kevin O'Brien, who hit two fours and a six. Asadu Seiga delivered three no-balls, one of which was hit to the boundary.

Wilson and Trent Johnston fell in the next over, but O'Brien hit a stunning jab for six over mid- on and then bisected the gap at square-leg to give Ireland its second highest-total in Twenty20 cricket.

Needing nine an over, Uganda went for their shots early, and lost Kyobe to Johnston's third delivery and Nsubuga to his eighth. In the absence of John Mooney and Alex Cusack, Porterfield took the cue to give his fringe bowlers a spell. O'Brien picked up two more wickets and Nigel Jones bowled four tight overs for the scalp of Muhumuza.

Wickets continued to fall steadily, with the best of the lot coming when Joyce made a spectacular one-handed diving catch to dismiss Charles Waiswa off Andrew White. Ronald Ssemanda and Seiga tried to biff a few off the spinners as the run-rate climbed ludicrously, but George Dockrell was rewarded for his perseverance with two wickets in the final over as Uganda was bowled out for 97.

O'Brien was named the Man of the Match for his 39 off 20 balls, and two wickets.

"It's always nice to be there at the end hitting a few runs," O'Brien said. "We're performing well in all departments now, with the batters all coming into form and the opening bowlers firing at the top of the innings."

With Namibia continuing to win, Ireland may have to "do it the hard way" if they want to qualify for the finals in Sri Lanka.

"We have to win every game, but that's what we planned to do when we came out here," O'Brien said.

Coach Phil Simmons also revealed why he called up Andrew Poynter to replace Mooney, who flies home tomorrow with a torn hamstring that will sideline him for six to ten weeks.

"I thought about bringing Tim Murtagh but we've got seven or eight bowlers here and they're all doing their jobs. With Alex Cusack out for the next four days too, we have no batting cover so I think Andrew is the best call," Simmons said.