Ireland get campaign back on track with Oman win
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND got their T20 World Cup qualifying campaign back on track when they ended Oman’s eight-match winning run in the shortest format with a convincing 35 runs victory.
The absence of the ill Andrew Balbirnie threatened to derail Ireland’s hopes of gaining revenge over the Omanis who had accounted for Ireland in their own pentangular tournament this month, but Gareth Delany stepped into the shoes of the regular No 3 and stamped all over the Sultanate.
First, he posted 89 not out, from just 49 balls, with nine fours and three sixes, and then followed up with two wickets, including that of top scorer Khawar Ali immediately after the opener had brought up his 50.
Oman still had fight left in them – and were ahead of Ireland at the comparable stage in the 13th over – but that was extinguished by two wickets in two balls and, with only the lower order to worry about, Ireland coasted home.
Even if Khawar had not been caught at deep backward square, he would have needed to emulate Delany’s extraordinary finish. The 22-year-old Leinster all-rounder, who only made his Ireland debut in July, was fortunate to survive a straightforward chance to long-on, the ball after bringing up his own 50 but proceeded to score his next 39 runs from 15 balls!
Even Mark Adair couldn’t keep up and, indeed, after hitting his first two balls for two and three, he was content to hit six singles and give the strike back to Delany who finished the innings in style.
Delany was left to do it on his own after Paul Stirling, who missed out on selection for The Hundred on Sunday night because of his new overseas status – there were only 24 places from 242 contenders and even Chris Gayle missed out – was bowled in the fifth over and Kevin O’Brien, after charging into the 40s with successive fours, was beaten on the back foot in the 10th over.
Harry Tector also played his part in Ireland’s highest total of the tournament so far and outscored Delany in their third wicket stand of 43, hitting a four and two sixes, although he did face seven more balls than the man of the match.
In what Gary Wilson described as an “outstanding bowling display” Boyd Rankin and Mark Adair again led from the front – each conceded only one boundary in their four-over spells and shared 20 ‘dot balls’ - and only David Delany, who was hit for three fours and a six in four balls immediately after taking the first wicket, received any significant ‘tap’.
Stuart Thompson continued to swap places with Shane Getkate and Lorcan Tucker came in for Balbirnie but wasn’t required to bat. He put down Jatinder Singh at mid-wicket but Delany got his wicket two balls later and in the end even David Delany’s miss at mid-on, off Khawar on 15, didn’t matter.
The win leapfrogged Ireland over Oman but they are still behind Canada and UAE on run-rate – all four teams have two wins – but the Canadians, who Ireland play tomorrow, are still unbeaten. Once again it looks a must-win game for Ireland if they are top the group and gain automatic qualification to the finals by Sunday night.