Gutsy Murtagh gives Ireland last laugh
Ireland don't do boring games! For the fourth time in six one-day internationals this season, the result was decided in the last over and, after two ties and a defeat, Ireland finally came out on the winning side.
Significantly, they were batting second.
Tim Murtagh – who played so well against England – was again Ireland's hero, this time with the bat, as Ireland's dramatic one wicket win off the penultimate ball condemned Scotland to the qualifying tournament in New Zealand at the start of next year to reach the World Cup finals.
Ireland, of course, are already there and for long periods of yesterday's game at Stormont there was an air of complacency.
None more so than when Ireland collapsed from 95 for no wicket to 146 for seven, chasing Scotland's below par 223. But this Ireland team is full of all-rounders and they seem to relish an against-the-odds chase.
So first, Trent Johnston, with a score he hasn't bettered since before the last World Cup, then Max Sorensen, on route to his Ireland best, hit some lusty blows to edge Ireland closer but it was Murtagh who got Ireland over the line.
Needing 12 off the last over, the Middlesex man hit the third ball into the sightscreen for six and the fifth ball to the point boundary to leave the Scots devastated.
They were probably feeling pretty bad after William Porterfield, resuming where he left off against England, and Paul Stirling scored at will for 17 overs, the captain particularly impressive in reaching 62 off 64 balls – including 10 sweet boundaries, before he gave a catch to backward point.
He batted as if he had a big football match to go – which, as an avid Northern Ireland fan, he had – but after his dismissal, he got not help from his top order colleagues and in the end he had to make a dash to Windsor Park to get there for the kick-off.
The Ireland bowling – including debutant Eddie Richardson, replacing John Mooney who has a quad strain which rules him out for two weeks – was rescued by George Dockrell who took four for 24 as the slow left armer ripped through the middle order.
But when his overs ran out, Scotland's last two wickets added 58 off the last eight overs. Trent Johnston finished as badly as he started when he bowled eight wides in his first three overs.
The start time for the second game between the teams, at Stormont tomorrow, has been brought forward to 10.30am.