ICC Media Release
A superb century from captain William Porterfield ensured Ireland laid down a marker on the first day of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier as his team easily overcame the challenge of its traditional rival Scotland at Benoni.
This coupled with some thrilling matches elsewhere, including a stunning victory for Afghanistan over Denmark made it a great start to the 19-day tournament.
Porterfield's hundred came off just 87 balls and included 12 fours and three sixes as Ireland chased down Scotland's under-par score of 232 with seven wickets and 12.2 overs to spare.
Opening the batting, the 24-year-old smashed the ball to all parts almost from the off. In the first over of the innings he hit Dewald Nel for a four through the covers and then a six over midwicket – the first six of his ODI career – letting the Scots know his intentions straight away.
'This is a good start for us,' said Porterfield afterwards.
'When we saw the fixture list we knew this first one would be a huge game for us because we realise how good Scotland are so to get the win is a big boost for us.
'I have been working on a few things in the nets and have been feeling really good but that is probably as well as I have batted. Everything seemed to click today and the main thing was to get the win for the team so I'm delighted.
'But now we have to focus on tomorrow's game (against Oman). We will prepare the same way and hopefully we'll put in another performance like that,' he said.
Porterfield was ably assisted, first by Gary Wilson and then by Eoin Morgan, whose contribution of 61 (off 56 balls) from a partnership of 131 helped to flatten any lingering hope that the defending champion Scotland had of taking the points.
Earlier, having lost the toss, Scotland got off to a pretty dismal start losing four wickets with just 24 runs on the board with Ireland's openers Peter Connell (2-51) and Boyd Rankin (2-27) making their presence felt. Only Neil McCallum stood firm against the Irish onslaught.
Just as he did in Nairobi at the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 in 2007, McCallum scored a magnificent century, ending on 121 not out as his team-mates seemed unable to stay with him long enough to bring Scotland to a truly competitive total on what was a good batting track at Willowmoore Park.
Unlike that day in Kenya, however, McCallum's hundred did not win the game for his side as this time Ireland's batsmen were ready to meet the challenge. Scotland must now brace itself for a vital match against Namibia at LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria tomorrow.
Elsewhere on day one in Group A of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, Canada beat Oman by 103 runs and Uganda pulled off a thrilling six-run victory over Namibia.
In Group B, Afghanistan kept its World Cup dream alive with a five-wicket victory over Denmark at Vaal University, the Netherlands – inspired by a rapid-fire hundred by Ryan ten Doeschate – overcame Kenya by seven wickets at Potchefstroom Cricket Ground, and the United Arab Emirates got the better of Bermuda at Potchefstroom University.
Man of the match for Afghanistan was wicketkeeper-batsman Karim Sadiq, who opted to take off the gloves and have a bowl. Showing his true all-round abilities he proceeded to take four wickets.
Afterwards he said: 'It was bad luck for Denmark that I injured my finger, which meant I stopped keeping wicket. My captain trusted me with the ball and I bowled wicket to wicket and ended up with four wickets and a run out.
'I have done this before, but our new coach wants me to focus on my wicketkeeping, while Taj (the former coach) always used to trust me with my bowling.
'My coach is very happy with my bowling today and I am hoping he will let me bowl in the other games.
'Bermuda is a big game for us, as they have played ODI cricket but if we win we will be close to qualification for the Super Eight.'