Ireland begin title defence with seven-wicket win over Namibia
Skipper William Porterfield makes success of move to No 3 with unbeaten 56
Ireland captain William Porterfield on his way to an unbeaten 56 in the seven-wicket victory over Namibia at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at Stormont in Belfast. Photograph: William Cherry/Inpho/Presseye
Ireland made a confident start to the defence of their World Twenty20 qualifier crown as they saw off the challenge of Namibia with a seven-wicket victory at Stormont in Belfast on Friday morning.
It brings Ireland’s unbeaten run in the competition to 19, stretching back to the loss to the African side back in 2012, and sets just the right tone for their Group A campaign .
Skipper William Porterfield led the way as Ireland chased down Namibia’s below-par score of 124 for eight, making an unbeaten 56 from 44 balls in his new role at No 3 following the retirement of Ed Joyce from T20 internationals.
Niall O’Brien switched up from No 4 to open with Paul Stirling and that also proved a success as the Leicestershire player made 45 from 40 balls, with Ireland getting home with 16 balls to spare.
Porterfield, who bats at first down for Warwickshire in T20 games, didn’t have to wait long to get involved after Stirling departed for one off the fifth delivery when he was caught at short cover.
Porterfield was almost run out after facing just one delivery when sent back by Niall O’Brien, with Namibia paying the price as nobody moved towards the non-striker’s end stumps when the throw came in from cover.
A second piece of luck for Porterfield came after he had made just five, when Bernard Scholtz let the ball slip through his hands at short fine-leg to the boundary rope .
Niall O’Brien also survived a routine chance after making 18 runs, with Craig Williams failing to hold on to a skier at cover despite getting two hands on the ball, with Namibia letting slip any chance they had of defending their small total.
The second-wicket stand was worth 71 when Williams made no mistake to take Niall O’Brien at long-off after he had made 45. His brother Kevin perished the same way in the next over, with Williams taking a fine catch, but Porterfield and Andrew Balbirnie (18 not out) carried Ireland to victory without further alarm, with the captain hitting the first two balls of the 18th over to the boundary to seal the win.
It wrapped up a fine performance from John Bracewell’s side, with just five bowlers used as Namibia were put into bat after Ireland won the toss on a damp and overcast morning in Belfast.
The young Merrion all-rounder was replaced by John Mooney, who had Baard caught by Niall O’Brien at third man before taking Namibia’s other opener Gerrie Snyman in his second over, with Gary Wilson taking the wicket behind the stumps.
Mooney went on to take out the top three in the batting order when he bowled Raymond van Schoor, and despite conceding 12 runs in his final over he finished up with figures of three for 23 from his four overs, his best in a T20 international.
The spinners then strangled the Namibia middle order, with George Dockrell taking a wicket with the first ball of his second over after Paul Stirling bowled a maiden in the 10th over, a rarity in T20 cricket.
Dockrell also struck with the first ball of his third over and finished his excellent four-over spell with figures of two for 15, while Stirling had figures of one for six off three before being bashed for two sixes off his last three deliveries by JJ Smit as Namibia tried to put up a score they could defend.
Ireland are next in action when they take on the United States at Stormont on Sunday morning (10.0).
WORLD TWENTY QUALIFIER - GROUP A
(at Stormont, Belfast): Namibia 124-8 (20 ovs) (JJ Smit 21; J Mooney 3-23, G Dockrell 2-15, A Cusack 2-25), Ireland 128-3 (17.2 ovs) (W Porterfield 56no, N O’Brien 45, A Balbirnie 18no). Ireland won by 7 wkts.