Ireland face Scotland for final slot
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND will meet Scotland in the second semi-final of the Desert T20 tournament today (10.30 GMT) after Afghanistan confirmed top place in Group A with a 54-run victory against Namibia yesterday.
While the Afghans face Oman at 10am local time in the first of the day’s triple-header, Ireland face the old enemy who won their group by defeating Oman by seven wickets.
The Ireland selection committee of coach John Bracewell, captain William Porterfield and Andrew White were unable to make any decision on the line-up until their opponents were known and as the Scotland game did not finish until after 10pm here in Dubai last night, it was always going to be today before the players could be told.
The pitch at the Dubai International Stadium has been faster than the Abu Dhabi surface where the first two group games were staged so Boyd Rankin and Craig Young, who were impressive with the new ball in Wednesday’s game against UAE, seem certain starters although as Porterfield admitted after the 24-run victory, Josh Little had done nothing wrong and his slower ball is a very good weapon.
“If Boyd is fit and available he is the first name on the team-sheet,” was Porterfield’s comment after the Namibia game, which Rankin missed with a back niggle and although he was named man of the match for his three for 16 against UAE, it was Young who turned up at the press conference.
“I’m pretty happy where I’m at and how it’s coming out. I was disappointed to miss the first match, of course, but the competition for places is good for the team. It keeps us all on our toes,” said the Bready bowler.
However, the bowlers are unlikely to find it as straightforward today against a Scotland side which eased past Ireland in the teams’ last T20 internationals in Bready in 2015.
Admittedly, it was an understrength Ireland side, without their county professionals — indeed, only Stuart Poynter, Kevin O’Brien, George Dockrell and Andy McBrine have survived from just 18 months ago while Scotland have eight of that squad involved again this week.
Scotland had great success sweeping the Omani spinners last night and the selectors may consider dropping Dockrell or McBrine for Josh Little, although the two all-rounders have yet to be dismissed this week, scoring 52 runs.