The three match series had been lost over the previous two days but, at least, Ireland could record a win in his third and final match. It was played at Malahide on the same, but much improved, pitch as Tuesday's match.
The match was delayed by 15 minutes due to rain and thereby reduced to 48 overs per side. After one over had been bowled there was a further break of six minutes but the captains agreed to no further overs reduction. Indeed, after 16 overs, came another break of 28 minutes but still no further reduction beyond the original two overs per team.
Ireland gave a first cap to Ralph Coetzee who replaced Dominick Joyce. Coetzee is a South African who holds an Irish passport by dint of his Irish mother. He played 11 first class matches in South Africa as a left-hand bat and slow left arm bowler. He is Belfast Harlequins' professional and, for the Northern Cricket Union, topped the Interprovincial Batting Averages. He is 31 years of age. ECB left out Adshead and Hall, the latter having scored 73 and 39 in the two matches to date.
ECB won the toss and decided to field. This may have been because the party were leaving after the match and some may have been leaving early and could bat high up the order in a second innings. Armstrong was again used as Bray's partner but he did not see out Wilson's first over. He was lbw to a ball which kept low. 2-1-0. After the break Botha resumed with Bray to the bowling of Wilson and Sharp. Bray did not score until the ninth over and the 20th ball he faced. By then Botha was 16 and had hit three fours, one a snick, and was lucky with playing and missing. Bray hit Sharp for a four through mid-on in over 12. Then Akhtar replaced Wilson. His first ball was a long hop which Botha hit straight up in the air to be caught at silly mid-off. 38-2-23.
The Bray/O'Brien stand was interrupted by rain at 49. After the resumption six came, including reaching 50, in over 17, and six more in over 18, but over 19 saw Bray out. He hit a straight for off Akhtar but, next ball, flashed at one away from his body and was caught at the wicket. 65-3-18. Gillespie, at number five, was the first right-handed batsman to appear. Sharp bowled out his 10 overs as he had done in the previous two games. This time he did not get a wicket and conceded 35 runs. In his previous 20 overs, over the first two matches, he took six for 44.
Foster came on for Sharp but bowled only one over before giving way to Brown's off spin. The O'Brien/Gillespie stand put on 27 in eight overs. Gillespie square cut a four to get off the mark and hit another over mid-on. O'Brien also hit two fours but gave Akhtar his third wicket in the bowler's eighth over. O'Brien cut straight to cover point with no foot movement at all. 92-4-26. Next came McCallan. As on the previous day he and Gillespie had a big stand. Yesterday it was 116, today's was 80, more than twice the size of any other stand on either team in today's match.
Two fours by Gillespie, one over square leg and one square cut, brought up 100 in over 31. Akhtar was bowled out after over 31, 3 for 42, and Chapman, slow left arm, came on. Gillespie got more strike than McCallan and dominated this stand. The 11 overs, from 30 to 40, inclusive, saw 55 runs scored of which Gillespie made 38 and McCallan 15. Gillespie got to his second 50 in two days and his third in five innings in 2003. This was in the 39th over when the score was 148. In this over McCallan was nearly run out by a direct hit from backward point. The pace quickened but when Brown's off spin 10 over stint finished, Wilson returned and had Gillespie caught at deepish mid-off with his third ball. 172-5-61. Gillespie faced 84 balls and hit six fours.
White came in with 39 balls left. In over 45 both batsman hit fours off Chapman and, in the slow left armer's next over, the 47th, McCallan hit a straight six, the only one of the innings, and this brought up 200. Wilson bowled the last over. The fifth ball clean bowled McCallan who had a swing and missed. 211-6-43. McCallan's 43 came in 50 balls and was exactly the same score he made the previous day. Coetzee, the new cap, arrived to face one ball from which he scored a single to make the final score 212 for six. Wilson, three for 30, and Akhtar, three for 42, shared the six wickets evenly. Surprisingly Foster bowled only one over while Chapman bowled a wicketless eight overs for 55 runs.
ECB had made 213 and 226 in the previous two matches so they were slight favourites to score 213 to win in this match. The first five wickets all produced reasonable stands from 20 for the fifth wicket to 38 for the third. The exception was only 13 put on for the second wicket. At one stage, in the 34th over, the score was 106 for three. However, despite having only three wickets down, 107 were now required in 14 overs. In fact, the last seven wickets fell in 10 overs for 54 more runs. Botha took four of these wickets in a spell of 4.1 overs.
In the absence of Adshead, Foster went in first with Hughes. The latter had made 40 and 55 in the previous matches. This time he made 70 but it took him 118 balls and, when he was fifth out, at 126 in over 37, the match was lost short of a miracle. P Mooney and Neely were the opening bowlers. The start was quiet and Mooney bowled two maidens in his first five overs. His sixth over was a wicket maiden. Foster drove and was caught at cover. 26-1-12 in the 11th over.
In came Howitt but he failed again scoring only a single in 19 balls faced. He became Mooney's second victim, caught, at the second attempt, by Bray at mid-on. 39-2-1. Boroughs joined Hughes in a 38 run stand which transpired to be the best of the innings. It was dominated by Hughes who got more strike and scored 26 runs of the 38. Mooney bowled out his 10 overs, two for 16. McCallan came on for Neely, who conceded 20 runs in seven overs, and Coetzee replaced Mooney for over 21 when the score was 46. Hughes now began to speed up and took 10 off McCallan's fourth over, the 22nd, with fours to fine leg and square cover. In the 25th over O'Brien, the wicketkeeper, dropped Hughes, then 42, at 68. It was a routine off side catch and would have given Coetzee his first International wicket.
In the next over a wicket did fall. It was that of Boroughs. He hit McCallan back over his head for four but, two balls later, he was lbw to a ball that kept low as Boroughs tried to play it to leg. 77-3-10. Chapman, who bats right-handed, joined Hughes. The latter played a maiden over from McCallan, the 28th, and slowly went to 50 out of 91 in over 31 having faced 96 balls. Botha replaced Coetzee for over 33 with the score at 100. The policy now seemed to be to use Botha as an "endgame" bowler. Botha seemed to have Hughes caught at the wicket in his first over but the umpire disagreed. John Mooney replaced McCallan for over 34. He took a wicket with his fifth ball. Chapman hit a huge skier to extra cover which Botha caught safety. 106-4-11.
The left handed Mole was next in. John Mooney's second, and last, over gave up 14 runs. Hughes hit three fours, one to mid-wicket, one to backward square leg and then a snick which Coetzee stopped on the boundary with a dive, but, unluckily, pushed the ball under the screen.
These were Hughes's last scoring shots. In the 37th over he cut at Botha and was caught at the wicket. 126-5-70. Hughes hit seven fours (there were only 12 in the innings) in his 118 balls. Sharp joined Mole but Botha dismissed the newcomer in his next over. A simple catch was lobbed to mid-off. 132-6-4. Mole, in over 40, skied White very high to mid-wicket. Botha came from mid-on as did wicket-keeper O'Brien. Despite cries of "Andre" O'Brien kept coming. The fielders clashed and the catch went down. The miss was not expensive because White had Humble stumped when he came down the pitch and missed in the 42nd over. 147-7-11.
Three overs and 13 runs later the match was over. Akhtar hit over a well pitched ball from Botha and was bowled. 158-8-7. Neely, replacing White, had Mole lbw at 160 and, without addition, Botha had Brown caught at extra cover to finish the match with 23 balls remaining.
Of Ireland's seven bowlers only Coetzee did not take a wicket. Botha's four for 23 in 6.1 overs was outstanding. Only Paul Mooney bowled 10 overs, only three bowlers were allowed to do so. Paul Mooney had two for 16. John Mooney and White bowled five overs between them and took two wickets for 30.