World Cup finals await Ireland's cricketer's
Published 08/07/2013 | 01:30
Ireland are on the brink of their third World Cup finals after another Dutch demolition in Amstelveen.
William Porterfield's side won by 88 runs and now need just one more point to top the qualifying group.
It was certainly not a complete, all-conquering performance, but it was more than good enough for Ireland to win their 13th successive game against the Netherlands, a run stretching back more than six years.
Porterfield came out of his poor run to top score with 79 thanks to a dropped catch from the second ball of the match.
Kevin O'Brien was also missed on 11 before going on to make a whirlwind 32 as the Dutch catching let them down.
It was Niall O'Brien who gave the Ireland innings the momentum and his 70, in an innings when he passed 4,000 runs for Ireland, was also his best score in an ODI for five years.
Ireland's only slight worry was when the Dutch reached 60 for one in reply from just 12 overs, but that all changed with the introduction of Paul Stirling who took a wicket in his first over and then Kevin O'Brien took centre stage.
O'Brien did not bowl a ball in the Intercontinental Cup match in Deventer last week, but he said that was "because I was not needed."
After an impressive spell in the nets on Saturday, Porterfield threw him the ball in the 17th over, he had the Netherlands' best batsman caught in the deep with his second ball and after that he was virtually unplayable.
Seven overs later he had recorded his best one-day international figures of four for 13. The Dutch were 109 for eight in their now hopeless pursuit of Ireland's 236 and that was the cue for the captain to give John Mooney some bowling practice – just in case he might be needed to bowl tomorrow.
On yesterday's evidence that didn't seem likely because there remains a vast chasm between these two teams – and yet the Dutch still have a chance of claiming the second automatic qualifying spot.
Ireland could still afford to leave Max Sorensen on the bench, although Alex Cusack, presumably preferred because of his death bowling, did himself few favours with three expensive overs, including one in the powerplay when the last pair was at the wicket.
Sorensen, who has taken five wickets in each of his last two games for Ireland, will be, rightly, bitterly disappointed if he doesn't get the call for the big one tomorrow, but this is a squad who always backs each other and they will be delighted for their captain who always insisted he was just one game away from a big score.
Porterfield threatened to carry his bat, but he was ninth out at the start of the last over in a shambles of a collapse which saw four wickets fall for seven runs in eight balls.
In all Porterfield faced 118 balls and hit eight fours, which was twice as many boundaries as Niall O'Brien hit, but his clever rotation of the strike wrestled the initiative from the Dutch after Stirling had gone in the second over and Joyce in the eighth.
Kevin O'Brien matched his older brother's boundary count in just 22 balls, including the only six of the innings, but hopes of Ireland reaching 250 ended with his dismissal in the 45th over.
Not that Ireland needed any more, the bowlers saw to that. Now to finish the World Cup journey tomorrow.