GABY LEWIS and Orla Prendergast hit sparking half-centuries in Abu Dhabi as Ireland saw off Scotland by 19 runs in their final Group A match to set up a do-or-die T20 World Cup qualifier semi-final against Zimbabwe.
After Laura Delany had won the toss, Lewis set the tone for the Ireland innings by hitting three of her 13 fours in the first over, and dominated partnerships with Amy Hunter and Prendergast before falling lbw for 66 from 37 balls in the 12th over.
Prendergast and skipper Delany maintained the momentum with a third-wicket stand of 63 and the former was 55 not out from 46 balls, with six fours and a maximum, when Ireland finished on a challenging 164-3.
Jane Maguire removed the two Scotland openers inside the powerplay but a strong mid-innings passage from the Associate side would have worried the Girls in Green as the requirement was reduced to 60 from six overs.
Nerves were settled by a tight couple of overs from Arlene Kelly, who took 1-19 in addition to a direct hit run-out, and after top scorer Sarah Bryce was removed by Cara Murray for 49 the chase petered out to 145-8.
Ireland coach Ed Joyce will hope a combination the extreme heat of the afternoon and the knowledge that their World Cup dream was over if they lost will not have taken too much out of his side before another pressure cooker clash against Zimbabwe tomorrow (FRI).
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Ireland will return to Lord’s next year to play a Test match against England - albeit a four-day game between June 1-4 - plus three one-day internationals against the world champions in Leeds, Nottingham and Bristol in September.
“When we played England at Lord’s back in 2019 it was a memorable occasion for players and fans alike,” skipper Andy Balbirnie said.
“That was the last Test we played, so we’re excited to be returning to the red-ball game next year because there is no better place to really learn, develop and test yourself than in multi-day cricket and Test matches are the absolute pinnacle.”