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Match Report
Derek Scott

The ninth wicket pair for United Arab Emirates foiled Ireland of an outright win as time ran out, but the match had been won, on the bonus point system, when Ireland set UAE 606 to win with a declaration before lunch in the morning. It was a match of many all-time records which will be specified as they occur and listed at the end.

Ireland could bring 13 players to the final stages of this cup. If UAE could be beaten, the final, after a day's rest, would be against Kenya or Bermuda. It turned out to be Kenya who beat Bermuda, also on bonus points.

Two selection policies could have been pursued. Bring the players who had beaten Scotland and drawn with Holland (it was the same 11 in each match) or call in the county contracted players. The second policy was the one pursued. Wilson was discarded for O'Brien as wicket-keeper and Molins, after 76 caps with a record 41 as captain, was dropped. He had averaged only 16.50 in 12 innings in 2005 and was physically very unfit. The other nine who had played against Scotland and Holland were selected. Johnston, unavailable to play in the preliminary matches, was brought in as the new captain. This was his 20th match and second season for Ireland. White and Morgan made up to 13. Botha had a bad toe problem and possibly should not have gone. He was unfit to play against UAE. White developed flu on the journey out and was also unfit to play. So no selection decisions had to be made for the match. The 11 fit men played. The party arrived in Namibia on the Thursday morning before the match, which began on the following Sunday. However, they were without the four Northern players whose plane from Belfast failed to catch the Namibia flight from Gatwick. Travelling to Frankfurt on Thursday they caught an Air Namibia flight there on Thursday evening having slept on the Gatwick airport floor on Wednesday night. They arrived 24 hours late.

UAE had, in their 13, only four who previously played against Ireland in the ICC Trophy in July. These were Arshad Ali, the new captain, Fahad Usman, Ali Asad Abbas and Rizwan Ahmed.

The pitch was like concrete and detecting grass on it was difficult. It had cracks and was the pitch on which Ireland would not want to bat fourth. The weather was very hot but it was dry heat. The toss was won at 9.45 a.m. on Sunday and Bray had a new opening partner in Dominic Joyce. The first innings was restricted to 90 overs with a half bonus point for every 25 runs and a half bonus point for every wicket taken.

Joyce and Bray set out against Ali Asad, the tall opening bowler, and the much shorter Saleem, both of whom were fast medium. These bowled 11 overs for 30 runs and both batsmen had hit three boundaries, Joyce's three all being "pick-up" shots to mid-wicket. Ali Asad bowled a 10 over stint but Alhashimi, a medium pacer, replaced Saleem for over 12. A straight drive by Joyce and four byes in over 17 brought 50 up. Rizwan, slow left-arm, and Samir Zia, off spin, were tried. Both bowled eight overs. Bray hit five fours in six overs, the last of which, to long-on, brought him to 52 out of 90 in over 28. He had faced 86 balls. The stand reached 100 in over 25, the seventh opening stand of 100 or more for Bray, and the fourth for Joyce.

Then, in over 38, Ali Asad returned and got Joyce with a long-hop which Joyce hit straight to square-leg. 111-1-38. Morgan arrived and played a most wonderful innings of 151 in 150 balls. Lunch was taken after 41 overs at 127-1. Bray was 77 and Morgan 7.

Morgan hit two fours, one a snick, off Ali Asad in over 42 but lost Bray, lbw to a new medium pacer, Sockalinghan, in over 45. His 77 contained 11 fours off 138 balls. 143-2-77. O'Brien was out in the next over. He followed up with his bat a wide offside lifter. It popped up and Ali Asad ran, dived, and caught it low and right-handed. O'Brien need not have played the ball. 146-3-2. Gillespie came next but got only 11 out of a stand of 43. 150 came up in over 47. Morgan then, in five overs in which he faced 20 balls, unveiled a set of wonderful shots which brought him six fours, the last of which saw him to 52 in over 54 off 55 balls with nine fours. Gillespie was out in the next over, over 55. He missed his shot and was lbw to a new bowler, Kashif, another off spinner. 189-4-11. Of the stand of 43 runs, 30 of them were scored by Morgan.

Johnston was next and in 16 overs no less than 94 runs were put on, 62 to Morgan and 32 to Johnston. In these 16 overs no less than seven bowlers were tried. Morgan was scoring at will. 200 was up in over 58 and 250 in over 69. In over 70 Morgan, with a six to mid-wicket off Rizwan, went to 102 off 104 balls, with a six and 13 fours. It was his first century for Ireland, aged 19 years and 43 days, and just failed to beat RH Lambert who, in 1893, scored his first century for Ireland aged 19 years and 38 days. Lambert needed a runner having strained a leg in the previous match against Surrey at the Oval. Johnston hit a six from a full toss bowled by the ninth bowler used, Usman, but fell to opening bowler, Ali Asad, in over 73. He hooked upwards and was caught at deep square-leg. 283-5-30. Armstrong was very unlucky to be out to the same bowler two overs later. The ball lifted, hit his bat and then his helmet grille, and rebounded onto the stumps. 294-6-5.

McCallan was next in and was with Morgan at tea, (the sessions were of 140 minutes each), at 302-6. Morgan was 123 and McCallan 4. 77 overs had been bowled at this stage. The new ball was allowed after 75 overs. It was taken at once after tea by Ali Asad and Sockalingam. Morgan pulled, off drove, and on drove three fours. After a quiet few overs Morgan hit a back foot drive of Ali Asad to take him to 151 in 149 balls. He was the sixth Irish batsmen to score 150 or more. He was out next ball trying to hit a straight ball to leg and adjudged lbw. 343-7-151. It was a wonderful innings of dashing strokes with a six, to reach 100, and 18 fours. Two overs later Ireland declared at 350-7. At 350 Ireland had got seven bonus batting points and prevented UAE from gaining any more than the 3 bowling points they already had. UAE tried nine bowlers of whom Ali Asad bowled 28 overs out of the 88 bowled and took 5-93. Overall the average runs per over was four. The pitch was not as fast as it looked and the bounce was somewhat inconsistent.

105 overs were to be bowled in the seven hour day. 88 had been bowled and 2 were allowed that the change of innings. When UAE started at 4.37 p.m. there was to be a minimum of 15 overs up to the close at 6 p.m. Ireland managed 17.3 overs and took four wickets for 77. Mooney bowled the second over and took wickets with his fourth and fifth balls. Both cutback from off. The first had Arshad Ali lbw, the second bowled Samir Zia who simply waved at it. 3-2-0. The hat-trick ball to Sockalingam was not accurate. The latter and wicket-keeper Taskeen did a good recovery job. They each hit four fours from the bowling of Mooney, who bowled four overs, McCoubrey, four overs, and Johnston, two overs. 56 was up in 10 overs. Then, in over 11, Johnston had Sockalingam caught high at cover by Joyce. 56-3-16. Kashif Ahmed came in, and with him came a dust storm which held up play for a few minutes. He and Taskeen looked as if they might

play out the day. However, in the last possible over Gillespie took a splendid one-handed catch at short leg off McCallan to dismiss Kashif Ahmed. 77-4-8. This ended play for the day. The score was not helped by 12 no balls from the faster bowlers and this rose to 22 before the innings ended.

Rameez Shahzad joined Taskeen at 10 a.m. on day two. McCallan finished his over. Then McCoubrey and Thompson were used. Rameez hit a Thompson full toss for six and 100 was up in over 24. Next over Thompson bowled the obdurate Taskeen around his legs as he tried to sweep. 103-5-47. Fahad Usman joined Rameez. They put on 42 in 10 overs from Thompson and Mooney. Then Johnston brought himself on and in his second over, the 36th, had Usman caught at mid-on as he drove uppishly. 145-6-15. The last ball of this over had Saleem caught at the wicket with no addition. 145-7-0. Three overs later McCallan had Rameez caught at deep square leg. It was a marvellous catch by Armstrong. He ran to his right, dived, and caught low and two-handed. 148-8-41. Rameez had hit a 6 off Thompson and six fours. Johnston collected his fourth wicket in his ninth over, the 42nd, when Ali Asad Abbas nibbled and was caught behind by O'Brien. 151-9-1. The last pair, Rizwan and Alhashimi, lasted for more than 10 overs, put on 38, and alternated between defence and attack. After bowling six overs and taking 3-9, Johnston surprisingly took himself off for McCoubrey. Alhashimi hit McCoubrey for three successive fours, one a snick in the air to third man. After three McCoubrey overs Johnston brought himself back for the last over before lunch. His first ball bowled Alhashimi whose 21 at number 11 was the third highest score. In 51.1 overs UAE were all out for 189, an Irish lead of 161. Ireland now had 12 bonus points to UAE's seven. Overwise, the bowling was shared among five bowlers, all of them, except McCoubrey, took at least one wicket. Johnston was the star with 5-33 in 10.1 overs. Mooney and McCallan had two wickets each. The run rate was 3.7 per over. On his debut as captain Johnston had five wickets in an innings. This was the first time for him to do this for Ireland. JD Monteith had done this on his debut as captain against Holland in Downpatrick in 1976. To save energy Johnston bowled of a shortened run and moved the ball in the air and off the pitch.

Ireland went in again at 1.00 p.m. with a minimum of 71 overs to be bowled in the remaining two sessions. UAE, in fact, bowled 77. Only four batting bonus points could be gained in the second innings (by scoring 200). If they did so, Ireland would have 16 bonus points. UAE, presently on seven, could get to 16. To prevent this Ireland would have to declare so that UAE, with four batting points in their second innings, could not get to 16 without all the second innings bowling points, five. It was Ireland's intention to bat UAE out of the match by batting well into the third day. Ireland did not want to tire their bowlers with the final coming up on Thursday.

Bray started briskly but Joyce was hit near the eye in the seventh over when the ball got through the grille off a missed pull. He retired on 2 runs with the score at 20. Morgan hit two fours off Alhashimi. Two overs later Sockalingam trapped him with his first ball. Morgan moved in to leg glance, missed and was lbw. 37-1-10. O'Brien was next. He batted with Bray for 77 overs into the next day and put on 304 for the third wicket. This was the highest stand, and the only one over 300, for Ireland for any wicket. After one four early on, O'Brien took his time. Bray was 25 when O'Brien came in. 50 came up in over 13. Rameez, Rizwan, Samir and Saleem all bowled spells before tea. Bray went to 50 off 74 balls in over 25 and 104 was up in over 29, the last 50 coming in 16 overs. At tea, 37 overs, the score was 134 with O'Brien playing the last over as a maiden. Bray was 73, O'Brien 34.

After tea Kashif and Sockalingam bowled five overs each. 150 was up in over 42 and O'Brien reached 53 in over 45 off 111 balls. UAE now changed their bowlers rapidly. Bray with a single went to his fourth century for Ireland in the 49th over at 177, 11 fours, 136 balls. 200 and maximum batting bonus points came in over 56. The previous record stand for the second wicket, 207, went in over 67.

In over 70 Bray, with a four to fine leg, went to 150 with the score at 267, the second to reach this mark in the match at the seventh in all. He had scored 17 fours and faced 192 balls. With a single to mid-on in over 71, O'Brien notched his second century for Ireland, the second of the innings, and the third of the match. He faced 196 balls with eight fours. Four more fours were hit before the close, three of them by Bray. 300 came up in over 76, the second time Ireland had scored 300 in a match twice. The close of play was after 77 overs, with Bray 169 and O'Brien 117. The total was 306-1.

The weather was still very hot on the third morning. Ireland were now leading by 467 but it was hoped that Bray would go on to get the highest score for Ireland. This stood at 198 not out by IJ Anderson against A Canadian XI in Toronto in 1973. It was not to be. A new ball was taken and in nine overs from Ali Asad and Samir, Bray scored 21 runs with three fours and dominated the strike. However, he fell lbw for 190 in over 86. It was Ireland's second highest individual score ever. He faced 251 balls with 23 fours. His stroke play was very good and he made no mistake, until the fatal one. The stand of 306 for the second wicket was the first over 300 for Ireland. It came in just over 76 overs, a steady rate of just over four per over. The time was now 10.30 a.m. as Joyce returned after his injury to partner O'Brien, who was now on 131. Joyce told O'Brien that he had about 90 minutes to "have a go" at Anderson's 198. As chance had it, in the next stand of 53 in 76 balls O'Brien only faced 27 of them and scored 17, with two fours, to Joyce's 36. Early on Joyce hit three fours. 350 came up in over 88, the first time Ireland had reached 350 in both innings. Joyce hit Rizwan for a six. Alhashimi came on next over. Joyce hit a four and then mishit a lobbed catch to cover. He had made 38 in both innings. 394-3-38.

It was now 11.20 a.m. With Gillespie in six more overs were bowled, actually 33 balls, and exactly 50 runs were put on. Gillespie hit three fours. 400 came up in over 101 and in it O'Brien went to 150 from 262 balls with 13 fours. Next over he hit two fours and two overs later took 11 off a Rameez over including a six. He was now 176 at 11.45 a.m. He was out, foolishly, off the first ball of the next over. Samir, who returned after his opening spell earlier today, bowled his first ball. O'Brien tried to reverse sweep and was out, bowled, for 176 off 277 balls with a six and 15 fours. He had been careful, only 66 coming in boundaries, but his dismissal was a poor option. With his dismissal the innings ended at 444-4 off 104.1 overs. The last 10 overs saw 69 runs scored.

444 was Ireland's second highest score. This time UAE went the whole hog and used 10 bowlers! Four of them took a wicket each but Ali Asad, the hero of the first innings, only bowled 16 overs out of 101 and had 1-75.

UAE began a chase of no less than 606 to win at noon. To achieve a 105 over day 60 overs should be bowled before the final hour, 15 overs, is called. Ireland bowled exactly those 60 overs and the last hour was called at 5.03 p.m. Much earlier UAE wanted the match stopped but Ireland refused. Mooney bowled the second over and obliged again. Wicket-keeper Taskeen, highest scorer in the first innings, was out for nought, caught by O'Brien attempting a cut. 4-1-0. There was now a worry. Mooney retired with a strained back and he was to rest in the hope of being fit for the final. White came out to field. Arshad and Saleem got up to 21 in the five overs bowled before lunch. However, in the last over, bowled by Johnston, Morgan at second slip and Bray at first slip both dropped low two-handed chances off successive balls.

After lunch scoring was quite brisk and a wicket did not fall until over 27. In this period McCoubrey, Armstrong, Gillespie (who had not taken a wicket for Ireland since 1998 because of back trouble) and Thompson were used, but not McCallan? 50 was up in over 14 and this pair put 100 up in over 26. Arshad reached 51 in over 23 from 73 balls. He had reached 59 from 86 balls, with seven fours, when he got out in over 27. Johnston took a very good catch at deep extra cover of Thompson. 102-2-59. Sockalingam was next. He was out to the first ball

McCallan bowled in the innings. He popped it wide to Gillespie at short leg and was caught one-handed to the fielder's right. 102-3-0. Kashif came in and played at five balls for a McCallan wicket maiden. Saleem hit two fours and a two in Thompson's next over which also included four byes, 14 runs in all. Off the last ball of McCallan's next over Kashif called a run to Armstrong at mid-on. Armstrong threw down the bowler's wicket for a run out. 118-4-1. Rameez joined Saleem who went to 50 in over 25 with a four off Johnston who had returned for Thompson. Saleem faced 92 balls with eight fours. In the eight overs before tea Saleem and Rameez scored 37 runs, Rameez getting three fours and Saleem two. 150 came up in over 37. At tea, taken at 38 overs, it was 155-4, Saleem 55 and Rameez 22. Already 12 no balls had been bowled, and this rose to 20 before the end making 42 in all by Ireland in the match. Johnston accounted for 23 of them and McCoubrey for 12.

After tea a minimum of 37 overs was available. Could Ireland take the remaining six wickets? McCoubrey and McCallan bowled the first eight overs after tea. The batsmen slowed down scoring 22 in those overs. Then McCallan struck having Saleem lbw trying to sweep a straight ball. 172-5-68. His 68 came from 134 balls with 10 fours. It was UAE's highest score in the match. Two overs later Rameez, 30, also fell to McCallan, caught at the wicket. 182-6-30. Samir joined Usman and this pair occupied 17 overs and put on 32. In this period Bray was given one over, Joyce three overs and Thompson had five more at the other end. Blocking was now the order of the day and eight overs of the 17 were maidens. A few fours were hit and one was a difficult chance to Morgan running in at deep mid-wicket.

The last hour was called after 60 overs at 200-6. Johnston came back and Usman took 12 off his first over but was out in his second, the 65th. It was a strange dismissal. O'Brien fumbled the chance, knocked it up and as he fell the ball lodged in his arm-pit. McCallan extracted it but O'Brien was given the catch. 214-7-25. Rizwan came and went after a further four overs. Another Johnston victim and another very good catch by Gillespie at short leg. 228-8-0.

Ireland fitted 11 overs into the remaining time, actually bowling 19 in the last hour, but the ninth pair blocked out 68 balls for seven runs, only four coming from the bat, a boundary to the number 10, Ali Asad, who had a runner on the field. The new ball was taken after eight of the 11 overs which were fitted in. This time it was Ireland with nine bowlers for the 79 overs. Johnston bowled 19 and had 2-73. In 22 overs McCallan had 3-32. The final bonus points favoured Ireland by 20 to 13. Bray was given the Man-of-the-Match award, a plaque.

The following is a summary of the records that fell to Ireland during the course of this match.

1. 350 or more was scored in both innings, 350 and 444, equalling 794. This was the best aggregate in a match for Ireland, the previous best being 323-6 declared and 301-6 declared, 624, against Scotland at Linlithgow in 1996

2. 444-4 is the second-highest innings total ever for Ireland. The highest is 462 against Mr WH Laverton's XI at Westbury, Wiltshire, in 1893

3. The match aggregate of 1210 for 29 wickets is the second best ever in a match involving Ireland. The best is 1265 for 26 wickets against Scotland at Linlithgow in 1986

4. Three scores of over 150 by Irish batsmen in a match, making eight in all. There had never previously been more than one score of over 150 in a match.

5. Three centuries in a match. This had only happened once before. IJ Anderson, two, and AJ O'Riordan, one, against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow in 1976

6. A record partnership for any wicket. Bray, 190, and O'Brien, 176, put on 304 for the second wicket in 76.2 overs. The previous best for the second wicket was 207 byM.A. Masood and DA Dennison against MCC at Lord's in 1985.

The previous best for any wicket is 224 which was done twice, once unbroken:

a) For the first wicket, SJS Warke and MP Rea against Wales at College Park in 1992.

b) For the fourth wicket, unbroken, DA Lewis and GD Harrison against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, in 1994

7. Bray's match aggregate of 268 (78 and 190) is the most by any player in one match for Ireland.

8. Bray's century was his fourth. He is now tied in second place behind I J. Anderson's seven. Bray is tied with RH Lambert, MA Masood, DA Lewis, SJS Warke and AR Dunlop

9. A 19 year-old, Morgan, getting his first century and failing by only five days to be the youngest ever century maker for Ireland.