Ireland’s bowlers set up easy chase to secure semi-final spot

Germany swatted aside with ease but bigger test to come in form of crunch semi-final clash

Ireland 111/3 (13.1 overs) (Paul Stirling 34; Muslim Yar 2-20) beat Germany 107/7 (20 overs) (Faisal Mubashir 45*; Josh Little 2-13) by seven wickets

Things rarely come easily for this Irish team in T20 cricket, but Monday proved to be the exception to the rule as Germany were swatted aside by seven wickets in the final pool game of the World Cup qualifiers in Al Amerat.

The result guarantees Ireland a spot in Tuesday’s semi-finals where a win over hosts Oman will secure qualification for the World Cup.

After Bahrain shocked the UAE in the pool’s other game taking place at the same time, Ireland needed a fast chase to secure qualification via net run-rate. That’s exactly what they got as a well-managed innings, barring the loss of the openers in quick succession, saw Ireland home in the 14th over.

Ireland’s attack was excellent in restricting Germany to just 107 for seven. The most expensive economy was that of Mark Adair who conceded a hair over seven an over, a figure inflated by a 19th over that cost 14runs. Death bowling continues to be a touch of a concern for this side, though they could afford one expensive set of six given how difficult scoring was for Germany through the rest of the innings.

Josh Little was named player of the match in a welcome return to form for the Pembroke left-armer, taking two wickets in the powerplay to put Ireland in the ascendancy - a position from which they never looked back. Little had not hit top form up to this point in the tournament, as he readily admitted himself after today’s win.

“Not a great start to my personal competition” he acknowledged, “but nice to get a couple of wickets and a decent economy today. The run-up clicked today, it came out nicely out of the wrist. It clicked and I got away with it today.

“We spoke about that in the dressing room, peaking at the right time so hopefully tomorrow we can come out and have an even better performance.”

That is the key question for Ireland ahead of tomorrow’s crucial semi-final. Is this Irish team peaking at the right time after a week of consistent action, or was today simply a dominant win over an outmatched Germany outfit?

Skipper Andrew Balbirnie certainly believes it is the former: “(We’re) slowly getting to where we want to at the right time of the tournament. Having won that game (against Bahrain) and got up and running, we know we tend to play better as the tours or tournaments go on. I think there was a good buzz around the place this morning, win two games potentially and you’re in a World Cup.”

It was Germany's first ever meeting with their European neighbours, and they failed to land fire many shots as their final boundary count did not reach double figures. Dylan Blignaut, who plies his trace for The Hills CC in Skerries, threatened to inject some much-needed momentum into the German innings with back-to-back boundaries off Simi Singh, only to then smash one of his leggies down the throat of Harry Tector on the mid wicket fence. Tector has been excellent in the field in his two games in the tournament, this well-judged catch the latest good piece of work.

Andy McBrine impressed once again with the ball, his uncomplicated off spin bringing him figures of 2-15, the third time in as many matches he has secured an economy of under six.

There was one moment of concern for Ireland when George Dockrell limped off after a diving stop on the boundary. He appears to be ok though since he would have batted if required in the chase.

With the bat, Balbirnie ensured that Ireland continue to thrive in the powerplay, pulling Dieter Klein off his nose for a big maximum over square leg before driving Blignaut over mid off for the same result. Paul Stirling once again struggled for timing early doors but got his innings underway with consecutive boundaries off Ghulam Ahmadi in the fourth over.

A powerplay total of 54 without loss off the first six was another ideal return for this Irish opening pair. However, familiar problems against spin resurfaced when Balbirnie holed out off Venkatraman Ganesan before extra bounce did for Stirling as his attempted cut flew to short third man off Muslim Yar.

Gareth Delany smashed one lusty blow down the ground but also departed to Yar as he looked to end the chase quickly, no doubt with the net run rate calculation on his mind. Tector came together with Lorcan Tucker to steer the game home, boundaries from the former through extra cover, square leg and point securing victory just after the 13 over mark.

The undoubted story of the day though was Bahrain’s upset of the UAE, the highest ranked side in this tournament. The result hands Ireland top spot in the group and in theory an easier semi-final tie with Nepal taking on the UAE in the other game.

Despite the famous win, Bahrain suffered the heartbreak of still being knocked out as the UAE’s superior run-rate ensures their progression at Bahrain’s expense.

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