Stuart Poynter the hero as Ireland complete Muscat miracle
Wicket-keeper hits a six off the final ball to see his side past Netherlands in Oman T20
Stuart Poynter was Ireland’s hero against Oman in Muscat. Photograph: Rowland White/Presseye/Inpho
Ireland (183-9, 20.0 overs) beat Netherlands (182-9, 20.0 overs) by one wicket.
Ireland’s wicket-keeper Stuart Poynter struck a miraculous six over mid-wicket off the last ball as Ireland won their final encounter of the T20I Quadrangular Tournament against Netherlands at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman.
Ireland made one change to the line-up from the defeat against Scotland on Friday, with Stuart Thompson replacing Lorcan Tucker. Captain Paul Stirling won the toss and immediately elected to bowl first - the first such opportunity of the tournament.
Once more the Irish bowlers struggled to contain their opponents during the powerplay, and Netherlands raced to 79-0 after six overs. The Dutch openers, Tobias Visee (78 from 36 balls) and Max O’Dowd (38 from 34 balls) forged a 116-run opening stand in 9.2 overs and looked set to launch their side to a score well beyond 200.
However, the wicket of Visee inspired an Irish revival, led by the bowling of Stuart Thompson (4-18) and Paul Stirling (1-13) - who at one stage combined to take four wickets in six balls.
Thompson’s four-wicket haul was his career best, and with Stirling the two bowlers combined at a crucial middle-overs stage to send down six overs for the impressive return of 5-31. A late flurry of boundaries ensured the Dutch score was competitive, and they finished on 182-9.
The Irish response did not get off to the best start, losing captain Stirling for four, but Kevin O’Brien (46 from 30 balls) and Andy Balbirnie (83 from 50 balls) put on an impressive 86-run stand to put Ireland well in the hunt at the halfway stage of their innings. Balbirnie’s effort was his best on T20I cricket and included 12 fours and a six in a well-controlled but commanding innings.
The Dutch side sensed an opportunity and Ireland’s middle-order stumbled, losing regular wickets while the run-rate slowed.
Come the final over, Ireland needed 12 to win with three wickets in hand. Two wickets and six runs came from the first four balls, leaving Poynter on strike with 6 needed off the final two deliveries. He failed to score off the fifth ball, but then launched an almighty pull shot over mid-wicket off the last to win the match in remarkable circumstances.
Andy Balbirnie was named man of the match for his 83 from 50 balls.
Oman v Ireland, T20 International, February 13th 2019, Al Almerat Cricket Ground, Muscat:
Netherlands 182-9 (20 overs; T Visee 78, M O’Dowd 38; S Thompson 4-18, B Rankin 2-27)
Ireland 183-9 (20 overs; A Balbirnie 83, K O’Brien 46; P van der Meekeran 4-38, F Klaassen 3-31)
Ireland won by 1 wicket