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Ireland eager to sign off on a winning note, says Porterfield

 

By Ian Callender

It was in September 2003, in a 50-over game, that Ireland, then only the third best Associate side in Europe, had to play a best of three qualifier against Denmark to earn their place in the Intercontinental Cup.

A 2-0 series win sent them into the European section of the tournament the following year, but victory against Holland and a defeat to Scotland was not enough to reach the semi-finals.

That Scottish loss would be the first of only three over the next 13 years in the competition, which propelled Ireland to the top ranking in Associate cricket, with Trent Johnston and William Porterfield lifting the trophy four times between them.

Tomorrow, in the Dubai International Stadium, the Scots are Ireland's opponents in their final Intercontinental Cup game, indeed their last in an Associate competition after being elevated to Test and Full Member status five months ago.

A fifth win in eight editions is an unlikely scenario because, while Ireland are favourites to beat their closest and fiercest adversaries over the last 130 years, Afghanistan are the new kids on the block and their newest and biggest rivals.

The final round of games are being played simultaneously in the UAE and if, as expected, the Afghans defeat the hosts, they will be champions again.

But, as Porterfield said, it has been a wonderful journey.

"We've been preparing well with a camp in La Manga and we've been in Dubai now for a week," he explained. "It's been a great journey for ourselves and this tournament has played an important role in that.

"We'll be looking to finish with a win against Scotland. We are still in contention to win the competition if things go our way in the other match, but we have to take care of things at our end."

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