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The Report by Gerard Siggins in Dubai
March 24, 2012
Ireland 96 for 1 (Stirling 59*) beat Namibia 94 for 6 (Opperman 26*, Sorensen 2-8, Johnston 2-19) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Ireland muscled their way past Namibia to take the last remaining place in the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka later this year, showing the disciplined all-round game that has made them the leading Associate side for the past five years.
Namibia had caused a surprise on day one of the tournament by defeating Ireland by four runs, but despite finishing the group stage unbeaten, they fly home to Windhoek with nothing to show. "It was a great experience for us, especially for the younger guys," Sarel Burger, the Namibia captain, said, straining to find positives as his team were outclassed in their two final-phase games. Their top order was blown away by Afghanistan, and again today by Trent Johnston. Raymond van Schoor had been leading scorer in the group stage with 323 runs, but failed miserably in the big games, making 1 and 0.
Burger's decision to bat first was perplexing, as Ireland have built on Johnston and Rankin's blitzkrieg in the opening overs. And so it was today, with the extra pace and movement confounding the Namibian batters. van Schoor played across the line and was out lbw to Johnston. In Johnston's next over, Louis van der Westhuizen hit a six over extra cover before getting his feet all wrong in trying a pull and lobbing the ball to Andrew White. Johnston ended with a maiden over, his sixth in Twenty20s.
The runless over is rarer than a fifty in this format, but Max Sorensen bowled two maidens in a stunning spell of 4-2-8-2. In his brief career - which started only last month - he has now bowled four maidens. The South-Africa born fast bowler, who plays with The Hills in Dublin, has come good in the knockout phase, showing great character as the clamour to replace him with Middlesex's Tim Murtagh became insistent. "I'm just glad today was my day," he said. "Today my rhythm was at its best, but it's great to do it in an important game."
Namibia had no answer to William Porterfield's stranglehold and their response was typified by the usually fluent Gerrie Snyman. He took nine balls to get off the mark and took 39 deliveries to score just 17. Ireland bowled as a unit and it was only the final over when Kevin O'Brien went for 12 that they slipped. Such are the riches at Porterfield's disposal that his ace left-arm spinner George Dockrell was not required to bowl for the first time in his 68 caps.
Namibia had only hit three sixes and five fours in their entire innings, but Ireland struck scored five fours within two overs. Porterfield and Paul Stirling went at ten runs an over until the captain clipped a ball to midwicket off Louis Klazinga, but his departure didn't faze Stirling who continued to brutalise the bowling.
His fifty came up in 26 balls, with eight fours and a six, and the innings had just crept one delivery into the 11th over when he reverse-swept Ian Oppermann for four to bring up victory.
The Irish team danced and sang as they celebrated qualifying for their third consecutive ICC World Twenty20, but you have to feel for the Namibians who have been the least deserving victims of the Full Members' vindictive decision to cut Associate participation from six teams to two.
Ireland went back to their hotel to rest for two hours before they return to play their second game of the day - and 11th in 12 days - against Afghanistan in the tournament final. At stake is a smart trophy, but also a dilemma.
The winners face Australia and West Indies in Sri Lanka, the losers take on England and India. It's arguable which is the most desirable fate, and has echoes of the 2005 ICC Trophy final when Scotland beat Ireland knowing that in the 2007 World Cup the winners would face Australia, South Africa and Netherlands. Defeat meant a group with Pakistan, Zimbabwe and West Indies. Ireland qualified for the Super Eights with a win and a tie, while the Scots were hammered in all three games. Their respective paths have diverged ever since.
Edited by Abhishek Purohit
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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