ICC Media Release
Five wickets from Trent Johnston and a century from captain William Porterfield made sure of victory for Ireland in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier at Centurion today.
It is the first time the Irish have won this event in five attempts and, having won the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup three times as well as the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier (albeit joint with the Netherlands) they now have a compelling case for claiming to be the best Associate team in every format of the international game.
Barring a couple of hiccups against Afghanistan and, in a dead rubber for the Irish, Kenya, Ireland has been the most consistent team of the tournament and as it panned out it was a highly professional display in the final against Canada.
Firstly, man of the match Johnston became the only Ireland bowler to take five wickets in an ODI as Canada struggled to 185 all out. Indeed, after nine overs of his spell, the former captain had the amazing figures of 9-4-5-5 but nine runs off his final over took the gloss off it ever so slightly.
Then, Porterfield took control of the run-chase and compiled a typically elegant 104 not out to lead his side to victory before the enthusiastic Irish supporters. It was a knock of great maturity as he built partnerships, first with Gary Wilson (38) and then Niall O'Brien (38 not out), as Ireland eased to the finish line with nine wickets to spare.
'We came to South Africa to win this tournament, not just qualify for the World Cup,' said a delighted Porterfield afterwards.
'We were beaten in the final four years ago and so we always said we wanted to go one step further this time around. The way the guys have played over the past 19 days has been fantastic and I think we are now the Associate side that all the others want to beat,' he said.
'Today our opening bowlers didn't get a great start as Canada got off to a flier but then Trent came on and was magnificent. He has been such a great performer for us, not just over the last couple of weeks but for years now, and he deserves all the plaudits he gets. He had a niggle coming into this match and was in pain after a couple of overs but the way he fought through that and bowled as well as he did was inspirational.
It's not often a centurion fails to scoop the man-of-the-match award but as much as Porterfield agreed with the decision to give it to Johnston, he was also more than content with his own contribution.
'We have set great store during this tournament by starting well and the top four batsmen have really taken responsibility for scoring the runs so I am glad we finished strongly in that regard as well.
'Looking ahead we are now going to have to work even harder because we want to stay one step ahead of those behind us and really close the gap on those in front. We have a good bunch of players, and also some talented lads coming through the ranks so we are now looking to prepare well for the World Cup and maybe we can spring a few more surprises when that comes around.'
Defeated coach Pubudu Dassanayake was far from downhearted afterwards as Canada had the huge consolation of having qualified for another World Cup.
'I am very proud of the guys,' he said.
'They have performed really well here and they have plenty to be happy about. We knew this would be a tough tournament and so it proved but we were equal to the task and we did what we came here to do.
'Our preparation was excellent and I want to thank (former Sri Lanka captain) Marvan Atapattu for all his work with the team. We showed that we can achieve a lot in a short space of time and while I am disappointed today having lost the final, tomorrow I will wake up a happy man knowing we have qualified.'
Elsewhere, Edgar Schiferli further justified his man-of-the-tournament award by taking 4-23 against Kenya in the third/fourth-place play-off at Potchefstroom. Kenya was dismissed for 179 and the Dutchmen chased it for the loss of four wickets with Daan van Bunge top scoring on 80.
Afghanistan finished its tournament off on another high by beating Scotland for the second time in five days in the fifth/sixth-place play-off at Benoni. That is the first ODI ever played by Afghanistan and so it now has the only 100 per cent winning record of any ODI team in cricket.
In the other game of the day, Namibia went down by four wickets to the United Arab Emirates thanks chiefly to a classy hundred from UAE captain Khuram Khan at LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria.