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O'Brien, Stirling hit milestones as Irish seal clean sweep in style

 

By Ian Callender

On the day Kevin O'Brien played his 300th international and Paul Stirling scored his 3,000th one-day international run, Ireland posted their joint highest ODI total in Dubai and completed a clean sweep of the Tri-Series.

On a superb batting track, Scotland put up a much better fight than in the first game between the teams on Tuesday, but with Boyd Rankin again the stand-out bowler, the Scots fell 24 runs short of Ireland's 331 for six.

Rankin took only one of the nine Scottish wickets, but his economy rate was under four - every other bowler in the match was over five - and he was hit for only two boundaries. The Scots plundered 30 from the other 40 overs.

Of Ireland's 36 boundaries, 11 were sixes, with O'Brien hitting four of them in a stand of 85 with Gary Wilson from just eight overs. The first player to play 300 times for Ireland - his brother Niall presented him with a special cap before the match - was out to the first ball of the last over for 46 from 24 balls and, as a result, only six runs came off the remaining five balls to only match the total against Zimbabwe at the 2015 World Cup.

Stirling, after a subdued 38 two days earlier, was back to his swashbuckling best and this time dominated the stand of 117 with Andrew Balbirnie, who fell just three short of a third consecutive half century. The opener, however, made no mistake, and the only surprise was that he was caught behind for 74 in the 28th over.

Niall O'Brien and Simi Singh, replacing the rested Ed Joyce, also scored at better than a run a ball, sharing 11 boundaries as they put on 62 between the 35th and 39th overs to put Ireland in control.

At the same stage in the Scotland innings, Peter Chase, replacing Andy McBrine, conceded 28 in two overs, but even after Michael Leask hit Barry McCarthy for 16 in the 43rd over, the Scots still needed 92.

The crucial over was the 46th when George Dockrell returned to dismiss Leask (59 off 35 balls) and, with no late-over Scots heroics, coach Graham Ford has started with four wins out of four.

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