Ireland 211 for 6 (Wilson 65, Stirling 60) beat Scotland 113 (Coetzer 40, Cross 35, Mulder 4-16) by 98 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
'Crowds are what we play cricket for' - Porterfield
Ireland captain William Porterfield and Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer speak after their semi-final game in the Desert T20
Four years ago, Ireland were the dominant force among Associates, beating virtually all comers on their voyages in the desert at back-to-back World T20 Qualifiers. But after falling on hard times in the game's shortest format, their performance in a semi-final win over Scotland may have been a rebirth. They thrashed Scotland by 98 runs to set up a clash with Afghanistan in the final for the fourth time, and first since Ireland's undefeated run to the 2013 World T20 Qualifier.
In scoring a mammoth 211 for 6, Ireland tied a T20I record score at the ground set by Sri Lanka against Pakistan in 2013. It's also Ireland's second-highest T20I score, 14 short of the 225 for 7 they racked up against Afghanistan in the final of the World T20 Qualifier in Abu Dhabi. Paul Stirling and Stuart Poynter fired Ireland at the top, scoring 71 for 0 in the Powerplay, the best first six overs for any team at the tournament, and added 78 for the first wicket before Poynter fell to Con de Lange for 39 off 19 balls.
Stirling peppered the rope between point and cover for most of his five boundaries and hit two of his three sixes over square leg before he fell for 60 at the start of the 12th over. Gary Wilson picked up the baton and continued the relay sprint past 200, firing a clinically savage 65 not out off 29 balls.
Scotland fought gamely in their own Powerplay as Matthew Cross biffed his way to 35 off 16 balls. Cross lifted Craig Young, Kevin O'Brien and George Dockrell over the rope for six in a frenetic first four overs before he was beaten for pace by Boyd Rankin attempting a pull and was caught at mid-on. Young persisted with a short-ball plan to Coetzer. He was hit over the leg side for a pair of fours and sixes in the fifth over as Coetzer tried to balance the ledger after the wicket of Cross.
Legspinner Jacob Mulder entered in the eighth over and hastened Scotland's demise, producing another impressive spell to finish with 4 for 16. After his first two overs, the required run-rate had jumped to 13 halfway through the chase. Forced to take more risks, Scotland started to slog their way back to the dugout and the innings concluded one ball into the 16th over.
What if ...
Left-arm spinner Mark Watt took the new ball, coming around the stumps. With his first delivery, Watt found Paul Stirling's outside edge prodding forward to a good-length ball. Cross, one of the best pure glovemen on the global circuit, couldn't hand on to the chance. Two balls later, Stirling played a scoop over fine leg and Ireland never looked back.
After Stirling broke down Scotland's firewall with a blitz at the top of the innings, Man of the Match Wilson continued to hack through their opponent's operating system.
Wilson's finest sequence came against Josh Davey in the 18th over. He cut the fourth ball past point to the boundary, then lofted straight for six over long-on, who had been fielding wide on the boundary. He moved straighter for the next ball, and Wilson took pleasure in manipulating the field as he flicked Davey's last ball of the over through wide long-on for another boundary.
The emergence of legspinner Mulder in this tournament has been positively divine for Ireland. Like most bowlers at the tournament, Mulder hasn't been getting a lot of turn, but in Dubai in particular, he has seized on the extra bounce on offer to produce plenty of top edges and wickets.
Calum MacLeod was his first victim in the semi-final, as his slog against the turn ballooned up to Andy McBrine at deep square leg. Coetzer fell targeting mid-off but sent a catch swirling to Porterfield at cover. He put himself on a hat-trick next ball when he got Safyaan Sharif to slog to deep midwicket, then clipped Craig Wallace's top edge in the 14th over as an attempted cut fluttered to short third man.
Heading into the final, Mulder is the tournament's leading wicket-taker with 10, one more than Afghanistan's Rashid Khan. The final is all set to be a tantalising legspin duel.