Captain’s knock from Paul Stirling helps Ireland open with victory
Simi Singh changes course of the game with three wickets to check Oman reply
Paul Stirling top-scored with 71 to lead Ireland to victory over Oman in the opening game of the T20 Quadrangular Tournament. Photograph: Nezar Balout/AFP/Getty Images
Captain Paul Stirling led from the front with a knock of 71 as Ireland claimed a 15-run win over Oman in their first match of the T20 Quadrangular Tournament at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman on Wednesday.
Ahead of the toss, Ireland’s captain Paul Stirling presented Ireland’s 700th international cap to 27-year old debutant Shane Getkate.
Oman’s captain Ajay Lalcheta then won the toss and sent Ireland in to bat first.
Sent in to bat after losing the toss, Stirling and new T20 opening partner Kevin O’Brien continued their promising start as a top-order pairing, putting on 44 from the first five overs.
After O’Brien went for 19 from 14 balls, Stirling was joined in a 78-run stand with Andy Balbirnie, who hit 34 from 24 balls. The partnership was Ireland’s third-highest second wicket stand in T20Is and set Ireland up for a seemingly big finale to their innings.
However, the brakes were applied to Ireland’s run rate as Balbirnie was dismissed with the score on 122, and Stirling dismissed three runs later, falling for 71 from 51 balls (11 fours, one six).
The last five overs yielded just 34 runs, with Lorcan Tucker compiling a tidy 22 not out from 18 balls and debutant Shane Getkate chiming in with 10 runs. Ireland’s total of 159 for five was competitive, although the visitors were probably 15-20 runs short of what they were on target for at the halfway mark of the innings.
The Omani response got to a fast-paced start – despite losing two early wickets, the home side were well settled at 50 for two at the end of the powerplay. With the scoreboard ticking over regularly, Ireland were looking for inspiration and received it in the form of spinner Simi Singh. Bowling the 10th over of the Oman innings with the home side at 73 for three, Singh claimed three wickets in the space of five balls, rocking the home side, which slumped to 76 for six.
Late wickets for George Dockrell, Josh Little – who claimed a dangerous looking Mohammad Nazeem for 25 with a deceiving slower ball – and Peter Chase put the game beyond doubt and Oman finished on 144 for nine, giving Ireland victory by 15 runs.
Speaking after the match, Stirling said: “I think we just about got a competitive total on the board. There was a lot less grass on the wicket than over the last few days so it wasn’t too bad a toss to lose. I think we got a score that was a minimum score we needed to get and we knew if we got a couple of quick wickets we’d put them under pressure, and that’s exactly what happened.
“The captaincy has been good fun, but I’m just happy we got across the line today. We didn’t really know what a good score was going to be. From a personal point of view it was good to take a few balls and get myself in and make a decent enough score.”
Next up for Ireland is a clash with Scotland on Friday and Stirling believes Ireland must work hard to keep up momentum.
“I think there is plenty of work to do still – one game doesn’t make us a good team, and we need to continue to improve.”
“In terms of the tournament, the challenges keep getting harder and harder. We know what Scotland have got, and on their day – just like when they beat England – they can be a real powerhouse. They’ve got a few key players that we’ll need to try and keep quiet. But I think we can get a win if we play our best.”
In the other tournament fixture on Wednesday, the Netherlands defeated Scotland by seven wickets off the second last ball of the match.
Ireland 159-5 (20 ovs) (P Stirling 71, A Balbirnie 34, L Tucker 22no; F Butt 2-19), Oman 144-9 (20 ovs) (F Butt 25no, M Nadeem 25; S Singh 3-15, G Dockrell 2-20, J Little 2-24, P Chase 2-42). Ireland won by 15 runs .