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Match Report
Derek Scott, Ian Cellender

This was the first match for Ireland of a quadrangular series involving Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland and West Indies. The matches were switched between Stormont (3) and Castle Avenue (3). All the West Indies matches are to be played at Castle Avenue and the other teams switch between the two venues.

The first match of the tournament took place yesterday at Castle Avenue when West Indies beat Netherlands by 10 wickets in a match that lasted less than 50 overs. The rules of the tournament provided that a side got 4 points for a win but could get a bonus point, making 5 points in all, if the won their match with a run rate 1.25 times or more that of their opponent. West Indies did this in their win over Holland.

The Irish squad for this tournament featured the return from injury of D Langford-Smith and AC Botha, EJG Morgan was available from Middlesex. Of the World Cup Squad there were 10 - the two Mooneys and PG Gillespie had retired, JP Bray had not made himself available, and WB Rankin was injured. The other three members of the squad were AR Cusack; MJ Fourie and GE Kidd. Left out from the squad that had played against India and Pakistan were DI Joyce; RK Whelan and GC Wilson. WTS Porterfield (with a minor leg injury) and AR White were left out of the squad for this match. It meant Kidd played only his second match for Ireland (his first had been in 2004 v MCC) and this was his ODI debut.

This proved to be a match where Netherlands were on top for virtually the whole game, until the last 3 or 4 overs. Netherlands at one stage were 192 for 3 chasing 210 and failed to get them. Indeed they entered the last over needing only 7. Of the first five balls they scored 1 single, and one batsman actually left a ball alone with only 3 left. A boundary 4 off the last ball left them still one run short.

This was Ireland's first ever win by a margin of a single run. Twice Ireland had lost by one run, on each occasion to the ECB XI.

Report by Ian Callender in the Daily Mail July 12th 2007.

Ireland came back from the dead to win their first one-day match of the season by the minimum margin against the Netherlands. Seven overs from the end, the Dutch were coasting at 186-3, needing only 24 runs for victory, but the introduction into the bowling attack of Kevin O'Brien and the return of Ireland's best "death bowler" Andre Botha, conjured up the most unlikely of victories. Unforgivably, the Netherlands still had four wickets left at the end, and Ireland didn't take one in the last two overs. Botha conceded just six runs from the 49th over and O'Brien, entrusted with the final over, was hit for a solitary single from his first five deliveries. The Ireland fielders were then able to watch the final ball of the match go for four, the boundary too late to matter.

For Ireland it was probably a relief to be playing against amateur opposition again. Yet it was plain sailing for the Dutch when Mudassar Bukhari inelegantly clobbered 71 to make a huge dent in their victory target of 211. Ireland used eight bowlers, but the return of David Langford-Smith lasted only three overs, his first spell going for 22 runs, and even Andre Botha could not make the breakthrough as the Dutch added 84 for the first wicket. In contrast, Ireland's Eoin Morgan found runs difficult to come by. After 27 overs he had faced 73 balls for just 19 runs, with only a couple of twos interrupting his run of singles and by the time he brought up his 50 in 108 balls he had hit two sixes but not one four, which must be some sort of record for an ODI.

At the other end Carroll seemed to get a harsh leg-before a decision, a purposeful Botha mistimed a pull and Niall O'Brien was content to work the singles. The loss of both Morgan and his county professional colleague six overs but only 23 runs later ensured that Ireland were unable to pick up the pace until the arrival of Kevin O'Brien and, crucially, David Langford-Smith. O'Brien Junior scored 34 off 39 balls and although Johnston was out for just two Langford-Smith was hiked up the order to smash 31 from 12 balls with three sixes and a four.

At halfway, Ireland appeared happy with their total of 210-8 but there were no terrors in the chronically slow pitch as the Dutch openers saw off Ireland's first five bowlers. They were restricted by a marvellous spell by Botha, his seven overs costing just eight runs, but it needed to the introduction of Kyle McCallan to break the opening stand, 17-year-old Alexei Kervezee caught at mid-off. Bukhari surrendered his wicket in a run-out and when Baz Zuiderent gave a return catch to Alex Cusack, finally introduced in the 39th over, the first hint of panic appeared in the Netherlands side.

"It's a step forward", said coach Phil Simmons. "In the past when we were in this sort of situation we would have lost. I have to praise the bowling of Kevin O'Brien and Andre Botha who are very hard to get away. It was top-class bowling and that added to a little bit of luck saw us through. The Dutch really were coasting."

Report by Alistair Bushe in the Newsletter, July 12, 2007.

The luck of the Irish is alive and well after all. That can be the only possible conclusion after Trent Johnston's men, for so long second-best against the Netherlands at Stormont yesterday, managed to salvage a dramatic one-run victory from the jaws of defeat in their first match of the quadrangular series.

Chasing Ireland's moderate 210-8, the Dutch were apparently cruising on 168-3 after 40 overs and on course to extend the home side's long wait for a one-day success. Just before the fourth Dutch wicket fell, with the score at 192 in the 46th over, no one in the ground could surely have envisaged what would happen next. Holland's batsmen are notorious for collapsing when the pressure is on, but even by their standards this was a spectacular slump.

Andre Botha, back in Irish colours after a two-month absence, had Peter Borren caught at deep square leg for 27 in the 47th over and in the following over Kenny Carroll effected a brilliant run out as the panic set in. Suddenly, from being in a position of total control, the Dutch needed 13 runs from two overs, with their best batsman back in the pavilion. Just six came from the penultimate over as Geert Mol's bizarre attempts to improvise against Botha only proceeded to pile more pressure on Willy Stelling at the other end. Seven runs were needed from the last over from Kevin O'Brien and an Irish victory was all but secured by the final delivery, as just a miserable single came from the first five deliveries. By the time Mol belatedly hit the final ball through extra cover for four, to give him an unbeaten five from seven balls, the game was up the Dutch.

It was an unthinkable scenario from earlier in the innings, which Holland controlled from virtually the first ball. Ireland thought they had easily enough runs on the board against opposition thrashed by 10 wickets by the West Indies the previous day but opening batsmen Mudassar Bukhari clearly thought otherwise. The right-hander batted as low as nine in that match, but he was soon capitalising on an Irish seam bowling line-up visibly lacking in aggression and intensity. David Langford-Smith, back after injury, was promptly whipped out of the attack after his three overs cost 21, and Thinus Fourie was solid, if unspectacular.

Bukhari had been promoted to chance his arm with the fielding restrictions in place and luck was most certainly on his side as the Dutch galloped to 50 without loss in 13 overs. For every sweetly struck boundary there were plenty more fresh air shots, but, Botha apart, Ireland didn't have the discipline to keep him quiet. Botha conceded just eight runs from his first seven overs, but even he didn't really look like breaking Bukhari's 84-run opening stand with the more becalmed Alexei Kervezee. There was a brief flicker of hope when Trent Johnston turned to spin in the 21st over.

Gary Kidd, back for his second Ireland appearance after an absence of three years, turned his opening delivery beautifully past Bukhari's outside edge and in the following over Kyle McCallan removed Kervezee for 20 with just his second ball. But the Waringstown spin duo weren't able to stem the run flow. Bukhari brought up his half-century with a towering six off Kidd in the 27th over and followed that with consecutive boundaries. He looked well set for a century until he was run out by a throw from McCallan after making 71 from 114 balls, and in the final analysis he did not deserve to be on the losing side.

Earlier in the day there was little to capture the imagination as Ireland made painstaking progress with the bat on a sluggish wicket. Eoin Morgan, brought in to accelerate the run rate at the top of the order, batted fully 37 overs and 112 balls for 51 runs. The Middlesex batsman, who has been scoring quickly for his county in the shorter form of the game, hit two sixes in his innings but he only managed one four. Botha looked in decent touch for his 27 and Kevin O'Brien made a welcome return to form with 34 from 42 deliveries.

It was only in the closing overs that Ireland managed to establish real momentum. Langford-Smith made a typically pugnacious 31 not out from just 13 balls, including three sixes and 14. When he hit the final delivery of the innings for a huge maximum over long-on, no one could have imagined how vital those runs would prove to be.

Stormont, Belfast