Irish fail to spark as Scots triumph
An historic day at Bready produced an historic result as Ireland lost to Scotland for the first time in a Twenty20 international.
The first international at the Magheramason ground saw five North West players in an Ireland line-up for the first time and not a single representative from the NCU, while a total of 146 for five, even on a slow pitch, was always likely to be vulnerable.
The Scots proved it emphatically, chasing down the target with 23 balls and six wickets to spare as the under-strength Ireland team was exposed.
The debutants could certainly not be blamed. David Rankin, opening the batting on his home ground, top scored with 33 and Tyrone Kane took three wickets in his first over, continuing the form he has been showing all season for Leinster Lightning and which made him such an easy pick for the selectors.
He was denied a fourth wicket in his second over when John Anderson spilled a straightforward catch which would have dismissed Richie Berrington on five. The Scottish batsman, who has so often proved a thorn in the side of Ireland down the years, went on to finish 24 not out in an unbroken partnership of 56 with Craig Wallace.
Ireland also dropped top scorer Matthew Cross on 35, a chance which, if held, would have reduced the Scots to 63 for two.
By the time Kane was introduced in the 11th over, another 26 runs had been added and even the loss of three wickets in the space of four balls failed to halt Scotland's momentum.
Ireland were without six of the team likely to play in the first match of the World Twenty20 next month so there will be no panic in the camp but, ironically, the top scorer last night will take no further part in the series.
Andrew Balbirnie flies in for tonight's second match (also at Bready, with a 5.30pm start) to replace Rankin, while George Dockrell, who bowled 44 wicketless overs in his first game on loan at Sussex this week, will be the other new face. Unfortunately, Paul Stirling, who scored 54 off just 27 balls for Middlesex last night, has not been released.
The Ireland batting, as a result, produced an underwhelming first 10 overs with Rankin determined not to fail on debut while Stuart Poynter, John Anderson and Andrew Poynter all perished at the other end.
At one stage Rankin played five leg byes in the space of 11 balls but either side he had two flowing extra cover boundaries and a straight six to make his debut a memorable one.
Kevin O'Brien upped the tempo in the second half with four fours and a six in his 19 balls and Max Sorensen scored at a strike rate of almost 200 to give Ireland something to bowl at.
But no matter who O'Brien turned to, the Scottish batsmen invariably found the wide open spaces.
The respective boundary count summed up with match - Ireland had 12 fours and four sixes, while Cross hit 10 of Scotland's 22 himself including the only six.