By Peter Della Penna
A record batting display by Ireland paved the way for a heavy victory by 78 runs over USA on Wednesday in the second Group A match at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. Niall O’Brien was named Man of the Match after scoring 84 opening the match for Ireland as he led Ireland to a total of 202 for 4 in 20 overs, their highest score ever in a Twenty20 match.
“It would have been nice to get 100,” said O’Brien, “but it’s a team game. I could’ve been out with 50 odd… I thought I played a pretty nice one today so I’m quite happy.”
Ireland won the toss and didn’t hesitate choosing to bat first on a flat track. O’Brien teamed up with captain William Porterfield to put on 83 runs for the first wicket as the two scythed their way through seven different USA bowlers.
No one was spared as they unleashed a wide array of shots, including O’Brien’s mighty impressive reverse sweep. Against Scotland, USA only allowed three overs where 10 runs or more were scored, but against Ireland, half the overs went for double-digit runs.
Pic (Right): Aditya's brilliant 72 not out saved USA the blushes [Picture courtesy: Daniela Zaharia]
“I thought it was an excellent batting track and Ireland took advantage of that and batted brilliantly,” said Steve Massiah, USA captain. “You can’t take anything away from them. The way they batted was very professional and we had some half-chances which if we had taken earlier and got a few early wickets that would have put some pressure on them obviously. But they got away to a good start and that basically set the tone for the rest of the innings.”
Porterfield was finally removed for 45 in the 9th over when USA’s seventh bowler, leg-spinner Saurabh Verma, got him to top edge a sweep that was taken by Carl Wright behind the stumps. However, Alex Cusack came in at number three and had no problem in keeping up with the pace set by the two openers. Cusack scored 46 in 30 balls and only had four dot balls in his innings.
The two put on 89 for the second wicket before O’Brien fell 16 short of a century to make it 172 for 2 after 17 overs. He came down the track to smash the off-spin of Timroy Allen over long on, but was beaten in flight and sent a thick edge to Sudesh Dhaniram standing at third man in the circle. Cusack and Kevin O’Brien fell in the space of nine runs, but a solid cameo by Trent Johnston pushed Ireland over 200.
USA’s innings got off to a horrendous start from which they could never recover. Peter Connell ripped through the top order to finish with 4 for 14 and Johnston accounted for two more wickets as USA fell to 25 for 6 after the first ball of the 7th over. Carl Wright and Lennox Cush each fell for two while Steve Massiah, Rashard Marshall and Dhaniram all went back to the pavilion without scoring. Timroy Allen completed the collapse when he was dismissed for six runs.
Aditya Thyagarajan came out to the wicket with Orlando Baker to bring some respectability back to USA.
Pic (Right): Orlando partnered Aditya in the 99 run 7th wicket partnership. [Picture Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia]
Thyagarajan in particular played brilliantly as he flayed Ireland’s spinners, George Dockrell and Andrew White, at will over and through the off side for boundaries, finishing with 11 of them in his innings of 72 not out off 67 balls. He combined with Baker to produce an unbroken 99-run 7th wicket partnership, but it wasn’t enough to cover up the carnage that took place before they arrived.
“My mindset today was knowing the format of the tournament, try to get as close as possible, because what happens is if we beat Afghanistan tomorrow, then it comes down to NRR,” said Thyagarajan.
USA will now face Afghanistan on Thursday in Dubai in their final Group A game. Afghanistan beat Scotland earlier on Wednesday to go top of the group. If USA beats Afghanistan and Scotland beats Ireland, both USA and Afghanistan will advance to the Super Fours with 2-1 records. If USA wins against Afghanistan and Ireland beats Scotland, there will be a three-way tie at 2-1 atop the group and net run rate will decide who moves on. If USA loses to Afghanistan and Scotland defeats Ireland, Afghanistan will automatically advance and there will be a three-way tie for second place at 1-2 with net run rate deciding who goes on to the Super Fours.
Official Scorecard - ICC World T20 Qualifier - Ireland vs. USA
Ireland wins by 78 runs
Ireland won the toss and elected to bat
Man of the Match: Niall O’Brien
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
WTS Porterfield* 45 28 5 1 ct Wright+ bowled Verma
NJ O’Brien+ 84 50 10 2 ct Dhaniram bowled Allen
AR Cusack 46 30 2 2 ct Wright+ bowled Allen
K JO’Brien 3 3 0 0 ct Thyagarajan bowled Cush
DT Johnston 12 7 0 1 not out
GC Wilson 5 2 1 0 not out
Total Extras 7 (0 no balls, 1 bye, 5 leg byes, 1 wide)
Team Total 202 for 4 in 20 overs
Did not bat: JF Mooney, P Connell, AC Botha, AR White, G Dockrell.
Fall of wicket: 83/1 (Porterfield), 172/2 (N O’Brien), 177/3 (K O’Brien), 186/4 (Cusack).
USA Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
KG Darlington 4-0-46-0
KU Shuja 2-0-17-0
OM Baker 1-0-14-0
LJ Cush 4-0-36-1
S Dhaniram 4-0-31-0
TP Allen 3-0-29-2
S Verma 2-0-23-1
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
CD Wright+ 2 7 0 0 LBW Connell
RA Marshall 0 2 0 0 ct N O’Brien+ bowled Connell
LJ Cush 2 2 0 0 ct Mooney bowled Connell
S Dhaniram 0 4 0 0 ct Botha bowled Johnston
SJ Massiah* 0 1 0 0 LBW Johnston
TP Allen 6 7 1 0 ct Cusack bowled Connell
A Thyagarajan 72 67 11 0 not out
OM Baker 28 31 0 1 not out
Total Extras 14 (1 no ball, 0 byes, 3 leg byes, 10 wides)
Team Total 124 for 6 in 20 overs
Did not bat: KU Shuja, S Verma, KG Darlington.
Fall of Wicket: 4/1 (Marshall), 6/2 (Cush), 7/3 (Dhaniram), 8/4 (Wright), 11/5 (Massiah), 25/6 (Allen).
Ireland Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
P Connell 4-0-14-4
DT Johnston 4-0-17-2
A Botha 4-0-25-0
GD Dockrell 4-0-42-0
A White 4-0-23-0