Ireland defeat Oman to book place at T20 World Cup
Ireland qualified for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup after defeating Oman by 56 runs at the Al Almerat Stadium.
A sensational team performance saw the Irish side recover from an early stumble to record a convincing victory, bowling out the Omani’s for 109 in the 19th over.
Needing 166 to win, Oman’s batters started with intent, but from a position of 68-2 after 10 overs, they collapsed, losing eight wickets for 41 runs, with Ireland earning the holy grail of a World Cup spot in Australia in October.
Player of the match Andy McBrine hit 36 off 21 balls and claimed 2-24 in an all-round performance of quality. Josh Little delivered another menacing spell with 2-14 from his four overs, and Simi Singh cleaned up the tail finishing with 3-20 from 3.3 overs.
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Captain Andrew Balbirnie said: “I think our determination got us there today, we knew at the start of the week we needed to win three games, and we’ve got better every match – and that’s what you need to do in tournament cricket.
“Our T20 cricket has been inconsistent, and to win three matches in a row we knew we’d have to be at our best – we managed to do that, and that was probably our best all-round performance.
“We lost a few early wickets, but Gareth Delany and Harry Tector’s partnership was world class. What impressed me was that they came out firing from ball one and didn’t just take their time to assess conditions – we’ve encouraged the batting group to back yourself and back your shots from the start, and they did that today.”
Balbirnie led from the front in the field, and made a number of tactical bowling changes that paid immediate dividends at crucial times.
The most influential switch was to bring Little back for an over at the halfway stage with Oman setting themselves for a launch at the target and two set batters gradually upping the run rate.
Little’s extra pace induced an edge from Shoaib Khan from his first ball – and from there Ireland didn’t look back.
Craig Young (2-32) continued his run of wicket-taking form capturing 8 wickets in the four matches of the tournament at an average of 13.38.
In the end, Oman’s Fayyaz Butt skied a ball to long on and was caught, bringing his side’s innings to a close on 109.
Earlier in the day Oman won the toss and decided to bowl first having built up a good record chasing down totals on their home pitches.
Despite four boundaries coming from the bats of Balbirnie and Paul Stirling, both openers were soon back in the pavilion with the score on 19 – both batters out chasing a quick start, miscuing shots from the bowling of Bilal Khan.
Gareth Delany and Harry Tector then came together to put on an energetic 82-run stand in 57 balls. The pair looked to attack from the first ball together, striking five sixes and five fours between them – Delany hitting three maximums in a row off the 11th over by Zeeshan Maqsood.
Tector, who only came into the team after being left out of the first match of the tournament, looked comfortable throughout – swinging through the line and finding the gaps at regular intervals.
However, on 35 he slashed at a wide ball outside off-stump and picked out the point fielder. Lorcan Tucker chopped on first ball, then Delany fell for a 32-ball 47 an over later after at one stage threatening to take the game away from Oman – and from a healthy 101-2, Ireland was now wobbling on 105-5.
George Dockrell played a short cameo of 18 from 16 balls to try reclaim the momentum, but it was Andy McBrine who stepped up with the bat this time.
Receiving well-deserved plaudits for his bowling in this tournament, McBrine swivelled and pulled his first ball for four, going on to strike 36 from just 21 balls, which included three boundaries and two sixes, eventually falling off the last ball of the innings.
Ireland had put on 59 off the last six overs to finish on 165-7 from their 20 overs – a competitive total, but not ‘out of reach’ for the home side.
Ireland have as a chance to win the Qualifier trophy against UAE on Thursday (10:00 GMT) at the same venue.
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