Win or bust for Ireland in T20 mission
Ireland face Canada this morning as they attempt to claim the second qualifying place at the World Twenty20 finals in Sri Lanka in September.
While respective group winners Namibia and Afghanistan meet this afternoon to decide the first qualifier, Ireland must win their next three matches to become the second and final team who will play alongside the 10 Full Members.
Namibia, who defeated Ireland in the opening match of the tournament, made it seven wins out of seven on Tuesday with a 28 runs victory over Italy to render academic Ireland’s sixth successive win, against Oman in Abu Dhabi.
Victory over Canada will pitch Ireland into an elimination final against either Scotland or the Netherlands on Friday morning and they will then, on Saturday, have to beat the losers of the game between Namibia and Afghanistan to reach the final and qualify for Sri Lanka.
It was all straightforward for Ireland yesterday with Gary Wilson continuing his prolific form. He finished 52 not out, with two fours and three sixes, to bring his tournament average to 51.5, his boundary off the last ball of the innings giving him a richly deserved first half century in Twenty20 cricket.
“It’s nice to get a 50. I was disappointed to get out in the last couple of days with overs to go when I thought I could go on, but I’m hitting the ball nicely and hope it can continue into the Super sixes,” said Wilson.
“Losing John Mooney and Alex Cusack gave players like Nigel Jones and Kevin O’Brien, who wouldn’t normally bowl that much, their chance and it shows the depth we have in the team.
“It was nice to get 160 on the board and the way the two lads (Boyd Rankin and Max Sorensen) bowled up front was excellent.
“We know Canada quite well, they are a decent side and hopefully we can get a win there and see where that takes us.”
Sorensen took the new ball against Oman, in place of the rested Trent Johnston, whose surprise replacement in the team was Andrew Poynter — who only arrived in Dubai from Dublin seven hours earlier. A wicket with the first ball of Sorensen's second over, just two balls after Rankin had made the breakthrough with his 12th wicket of the tournament, reduced Oman to 14 for two and despite a unbeaten half century from Jatinder Singh, the second half of the match was a formality.
Paul Stirling continued to show he was almost back to his best with a quickfire 35, including four fours and a six and Kevin O’Brien hit five fours in his 32.
Johnston for Poynter will be a certain change for today's game, although Cusack will undergo a fitness test in the morning and will return, if fit to bat.