A near flawless team effort saw Ireland begin the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament with a commanding victory over the Netherlands in a rain-affected match by 93 runs (DLS method) in Harare today.
Paul Stirling, who was dropped on 9, made a steady 20 runs (39 balls; 3 x fours) before holing out at deep square leg with the score at 59 in the 14th over.
To the wicket came the experienced Ed Joyce in partnership with Porterfield – continued the steady build up.
Porterfield started to show increasing flair as he neared his half-century, but fell on 47.
When Joyce went a few overs later with the score on 118-3 in the 29th over,
Ireland’s pairing of in-form Andrew Balbirnie and the ever-dangerous Niall O’Brien set about raising the tempo.
Their 101-run partnership in 82 balls.
Balbirnie was once again his team’s top-scorer with 68 runs bringing up his half-century by nonchalantly helping a bouncer down to fine leg for four.
While Balbirnie was assured, his partner Niall O’Brien was at times brutal on the bowling, putting away five boundaries and two sixes in an innings of 49.
The Dutch bowlers then tried to wrestle back momentum by claiming Kevin O’Brien and Gary Wilson for a second-ball duck, but Balbirnie and George Dockrell steadied to get the score to 243-6 before the excellent Balbirnie finally fell.
Dockrell was joined by Barry McCarthy who took the final score for Ireland to a highly competitive 268-7 from 50 overs.
That rain fell heavily and the match officials, using the Duckworth-Lewis Method, then announced that the Netherlands had a revised target of 243 runs in 41 overs which they failed to make.
Ireland captain William Porterfield said:
“In terms of other results today, our view is that this is the first game of the tournament. Our focus is to come out of our group with the maximum number of points as possible.”
Elsewhere today in Group A the UAE beat Papua New Guinean side, who Ireland will face tomorrow.