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Match Report
Derek Scott

A nail biter! A supreme innings by EC Joyce (115 not out from 134 balls) ultimately carried the day on the second last ball after a massive scare of being 23 for four in the 12th over. The second hero was Trent Johnston who made 67 out of 122 put on for the fifth wicket. White helped in a 35 run stand for the seventh wicket. The final hero was Paul Mooney. He came in at 212 for 8 with 19 needed in four overs. He faced 10 balls and got three singles including the winning one.

The day was mostly sunny but a cool breeze blew up in the afternoon. The pitch was beige coloured, hard, played slowly and had a touch of moisture which probably influenced Ireland to put UAE in. Ireland had lost to UAE in Kenya and Toronto when UAE showed an ability to hit at everything and chase any total. Now they had to bat first and their 231 runs came in fits and starts. They had stands of 31, 57, 36, 49 (all these in succession) and 32 but their last three wickets fell for one run. Rain in the night slowed the outfield. Gillespie returned for Ireland for Dom Joyce as the only change. The umpires were from New Zealand (AL Hill) and Indonesia (S Hamed).

A Saeed and Arshad Ali were UAE's openers. Johnston's first ball was a wide but Mooney pounced in his first over. He moved one away off the pitch to Saeed which caught the edge of the bat and was snaffled by Bray. 5-1-0. Asghar Ali was number three. He got most of the strike (28 balls to nine). There were too many wides and some shots in the air which did not go to hand. Asghar amassed 17 including a four off Johnston. Then, in over eight, Mooney struck again. Asghar Ali cut at a ball which went straight to Botha at second slip. 36-2-17. Khurram Khan, the captain, was next, and McCoubrey replaced Johnston who had bowled five overs. He went off for repair to a leg muscle (Dom Joyce came on as sub). The next period was quiet but 50 was up in over 13. Arshad Ali hit a four to mid wicket off McCoubrey and, next over, Khan drove Mooney to the extra cover boundary. In over 17 Khan skied McCoubrey to extra cover. The catch was made but it was a no-ball!

Mooney, as usual, bowled his 10 overs without a break (two for 39) and McCallan replaced him. Off the last ball of McCoubrey's seventh and last over Arshad Ali played to Ed Joyce at short mid-wicket. There was hesitation over a run and Joyce's throw to Bray beat Arshad Ali who failed to get back. 93-3-24 in 24 overs. In came Maqsood and White replaced McCoubrey. The 25 over score was 94. Both batsmen hit a four in White's second over and he only bowled three before Botha came on for over 31 with the score at 116. With a four in over 32 Khan went to 51 at 125. He was out next over (Botha). He hit a huge skier to short mid-wicket which Molins caught. 129-4-53 in 69 balls with five fours. Javed Ismail came next. He and Maqsood played quietly, mostly in singles, to the bowling of McCallan and Botha. Javed was lucky in the 38th over when he looped a ball to gully but McCoubrey just failed to get to it. A four by Maqsood in over 39 brought up 150. The 40 over score was 158.

Johnston and McCoubrey came on in a double bowling change but McCoubrey's first over (42nd) cost 14. Javed hit a straight six off the first ball and got a square cut for four off the last ball, a full toss. Then, in over 43, Johnston nipped one back at Maqsood and he was out lbw. 178-5-36 (off 72 balls). The stand was worth 49 in 10 overs. Fahan Usman, a left hander, was next. McCoubrey came off after his one expensive over and Botha came back but it was Johnston who struck again in over 45. He clean bowled Usman who played an expansive shot. 197-6-9. Nadeem faced the next ball and was run out. He set out on a foolish run to mid-on, was sent back, and mid-on's throw to Johnston brought about the run out. 197-7-0.

Tauquire joined Javed. The latter took over the strike and began to attack. Botha's 46th over yielded nine runs, eight of them to Javed. Johnston's 47th over went for 12, 10 of them to Javed, who reached his 50 with a four to extra-cover off the first ball. Botha bowled the 48th over in which there were nine runs. Johnston dropped Javed at mid-wicket off the third ball. This was not expensive because the last ball of this over bowled Javed. He chopped down too late on the ball. 229-8-56. Javed hit a six and five fours and faced only 37 balls. In fact the UAE's innings ended poorly for them - the last three wickets going for only one run. In the 49th over (Johnston) Abbas, the number 10, was out lbw to the first ball he faced. He shuffled in and tried to turn the ball to leg. The last man, Rizwan Ahmed, was out next ball to end the innings in 48.3 overs. He called a run and the bowler, Johnston, running to mid-on, threw down the bowler's wicket.

Ireland used six bowlers. McCallan was the least expensive, 34 runs in his 10 overs but no wicket. Johnston had three for 45 in 9.3 overs, Mooney 3 for 39 in 10, and Botha two for 44 in eight. Three run outs, all of them silly, did not help UAE. The Irish fielding and throwing was excellent.

At 3 pm Ireland set out confident of winning. On previous experience it was felt that the UAE bowling did not match their batting. The very tall Abbas and Javed Ismail opened the bowling, both barely on the quick side of medium. The nail biting, concern and worry began almost at once and by the 11th over defeat stared Ireland in the face. Molins hit Abbas's second ball for four (a square cut). Five runs came in two overs followed by two maidens. The first disaster was in over five (Abbas). Molins was lbw. 6-1-4. Botha departed in the next over having faced one ball. He hit Javed to extra cover, called a risky single, only to see the fielder throw down the bowler's wicket. 7-2-0. Joyce hit the first ball he faced smoothly to the extra cover boundary. Four balls later Bray was out to a brilliant one handed catch (Kahn) at extra cover. 12-3-2. Morgan came in and stayed for four overs during which 11 runs were added. He was then out in the 11th over (Abbas) caught by the wicket-keeper down the leg side.

With Johnston coming in Joyce was 15 and 208 runs were needed in roughly 40 overs. Johnston hit his first ball for three to extra-cover, then, next ball, Joyce hit a four in the same over. He followed this with a four to square leg from a leg stump half volley in the next over. Then Johnston went on the attack striking five fours (one of them all run) in the next 15 balls he faced and was now 25 to Joyce's 22. Fifty had come up in over 14 with the all run four. Javed bowled six overs for 16 and Abbas eight taking three for 33. Both had bowled well in a lively manner. Nadeem, another medium pacer, was given two overs. Rizwan (slow left arm) replaced Abbas for over 17 and Tauqire (off spin) was given over 18. The 20 over score was 81. Four byes in over 24 brought up 100 and runs were now coming at five or six and over, mostly by well placed singles and twos. At the half way mark the score was 110 so 121 were needed in the second half of the innings. At this point Joyce was 44 and Johnston 47. Nadeem had come back for Rizwan for this 25th over and Joyce had a lucky escape when he snicked a two past his leg stump.

In over 26 (Tauqire) Johnston went to 50 in 48 balls with five fours. In view of the early disasters this was a magnificent innings. Sadly it did not last much longer. In over 27 he hit a six over square leg off Nadeem and saw Joyce go to 51 in the following over. Joyce faced 45 balls and had three fours early on but had not hit one for 16 overs. The next five overs were mostly singles. After over 30 the score was 139, so 58 runs had come in the last 10 overs and 117 runs from over 11 to over 30. Khan, the captain and another slow left armer, was on for over 31 and he dismissed Johnston in his second over. Johnston tried to turn one to leg, missed, and was bowled around his legs. 145-5-67. He faced only 68 balls and hit a six and five fours. It was a match saving innings and it played a large part in the ultimate win. Gillespie was next and played out the last four balls of Khan's over. In over 34 Joyce square cut a four off Tauqire and, next ball, swept a four to fine leg. 150 was now up but the next ball brought another run out. Gillespie set off from the non-strikers end, thinking there was a run. There was not! He was rightly sent back but could not beat the throw to the bowler. 155-6-1.

White was next. 16 overs remained to score 76 runs. White did a very good job. He only scored 11 (nine singles) in a stand of 35 in eight overs. Javed came back for Tauqire and nine runs came off this 36th over including a four to mid wicket by Joyce. 60 had now come in the last 12 overs. Nadeem came back for over 40 after Javed had bowled two overs. The score after 40 overs was 182. Now, in 10 overs, 49 runs were needed. Khan had bowled five overs for 11 and continued to the end and gave up only 29 runs in his 10 overs. In over 41 (Khan) Joyce mishooked and deep mid-wicket, running in and diving, could not hold on. If that had been caught the match surely would have been lost. Joyce was 83, the score 183. Next over (the 42nd) White was out. A ball from Nadeem kept a bit low and bowled him. 190-7-11. He faced 22 balls.

48 balls remained to score 41 with McCallan in. This partnership spanned four overs and put on 22 which was exactly what was needed. Joyce hit two fours in this stand. The second, to mid-wicket off Nadeem, took him to 101 with the score on 207. He had faced 117 balls with eight fours. This was his second century in three innings. The last ball of this 46th over dismissed McCallan. The previous ball he had hit a four to wide long-on but, next ball, he was caught at the wicket. 212-8-10. McCallan had also played a vital role while these 22 runs were added.

Now exactly four overs remained and 19 were needed with the staunch Mooney striding to the wicket. Only three (all to Joyce) came off over 47. Now 16 needed in three overs. A wide first ball was a help in what was Javed's last over. Joyce scored four runs to Mooney's one and Joyce had strike for the next over. 10 now needed from two overs. The wish was for a four from Joyce to ease the problem. The wish was granted from the second ball of Khan's over which Joyce took from outside off stump to wide long-on. Five runs came in this over leaving five to get in the final over. A new bowler had to be brought on. It was opening bowler Abbas bowling his ninth over. All his previous eight had been bowled from the other end.

With Joyce facing the first ball was a dot. There was a single from the second. With Mooney now facing there was an enormous bonus with the next ball being a wide. Now three were needed in four balls. Mooney got a single to square leg and Joyce a single to mid on to bring the scores level with two balls remaining. A chat between the two batsmen followed. They decided to run off the fifth ball if there was any chance of a run. Joyce would be half way up the pitch and even if Mooney was run out Joyce would face the last ball. Mooney got the ball away to the point area and the run was safely taken. A most exciting game had been won and Ireland were now top of the table with three straight wins.

No praise is too high for Joyce's silky 115 from 134 balls with nine fours. He was supreme throughout with timing, placing and very fast running. By a remarkable coincidence Ireland's score of 231 for eight was identical to their score against Uganda in the previous game. UAE used six bowlers and their bowling standard was very good - on a length and accurate. Only Nadeem (two for 64 in 10) and Tauqire, none for 47 in nine, were expensive. The best of the bowlers was Abbas, three for 38 in 8.5 overs. The fielding was very good.

Joyce won the Man-of-the-Match award for the second time. Five of the UAE team had played in Toronto in a winning match against Ireland in 2001. They were Asim Saeed, Arshad Ali, Tauqire, Nadeem and skipper Khan. Six of the Irish team played in that match - Molins, Joyce, White, McCallan, Mooney and McCoubrey.

In Ireland's group today Bermuda beat Denmark and Uganda beat United States of America, perhaps a surprise.

The next day (Tuesday 5th July 2005) Ireland were scheduled to play United States of America at Waringstown. The match was abandoned - no balls were bowled. Persistent heavy rain fell until 1.00. Great efforts were made to make the ground playable but in vain and the Umpires called the game off at 3.45.

The rules of the competition were that if any single match was completed in either section the reserve day (tomorrow 6th July) would not be used. Initially it had been understood that this rule would be applied only if a game in the relevant section had been completed but it appeared to have been changed at some stage to a game in either section. In fact no match was completed in Ireland's section but all matches in the other section (played in the North West) were completed, albeit shortened games, so there would be no replay tomorrow.

Ireland and USA (and indeed all teams in this section) received one point each.

Ireland's last match is on Thursday against Denmark. If Ireland won, or there is a "no result" Ireland win the section and, in the semi finals, play the second placed team in the other section. If Ireland lost to Denmark they would still contest the semi finals unless Bermuda beat the United States of America (a likely result). In that event there would be a triple tie at the top - three teams with seven points each. Net Run Rate would then decide placings. Ireland were comfortably ahead on this and would have to lose by a huge margin to Denmark (about 100 runs if Denmark were to bat first) to lose the top place. Indeed Bermuda would also have to win by a large margin also for Ireland to lose a qualifying place for the top 4 play offs. So already it can be said with reasonable certainty that Ireland will be a semi finalist and have booked a place in the World Cup finals in the West Indies in the Spring of 2007. This was Ireland's fourth attempt to qualify for the World Cup and they should have done so at the second attempt in Kuala Lumpur in 1997.

The match v the USA would have been Ireland's 600th match since the first in 1855 v Gentlemen of England at Phoenix CC. It would also have seen WK McCallan surpass DA Lewis's record of 121 caps. McCallan would have done it on his home ground at Waringstown. Both events will now have to wait for the final first round match at Bangor on Thursday against Denmark. Curiously Ireland's 500th match was also against Denmark, but, hopefully not an omen, that match was lost to the Danes.

Stormont, Belfast