Ireland wrapped up the Group phase of their World Cup Qualifying campaign with yet another convincing win - their 5th in a row- over a dangerous Namibian side. The margin of 7 wickets didn't flatter a rampant Irish outfit, who totally outplayed their African opponents in every facet of the game.
Once again it was the rejuvenated skipper William Porterfield who led from the front. Captain Fantastic scored an imperious 84 from 124 balls, and looked destined to record his second century of the competition, before driving a sharp return catch to Sarel Burger.
Porterfield shared in two significant partnerships, following the early dismissal of Gary Wilson for yet another duck - the Surrey opener playing all around a Louis Klazinga Yorker in the second over with the total on four. He and Eoin Morgan (42) put on 84 in 20 overs, before Morgan in attempting to hit Louis van der Westhuizen out of the ground, only succeeded in picking out Bjorn Kotze on the deep midwicket boundary.
The Gloucestershire opener was then joined by Northants batsman Niall O'Brien and the pair effectively took the game away from Namibia, adding 101 for the 3rd wicket in 18.5 overs. The pair combined excellent running with intelligent shot selection, and the result was never in doubt on a pitch which flattened out as the day progressed. O'Brien scored an unbeaten 64 from just 74 balls, hitting just 3 fours as he was content to take the safety first approach.
He was joined for the last rites by his brother Kevin, who yet again finished the proceedings with a boundary - he's now scored 208 runs in the past week without being dismissed. Indeed Ireland have yet to lose more than 4 wickets in the tournament thus far.
In the morning session, Namibia surprisingly opted to bat with the pitch containing some autumnal dew. Boyd Rankin again bowled superbly, having the excellent analysis of 2 for 17 in 10 overs. He and Peter Connell once again kept a firm grip on the opposition in the crucial power plays. Regan West (2-43) bowled some fine deliveries, but struggled to settle into a rhythm.
John Mooney, deputising for the injured Trent Johnston (hamstring), got the vital wicket of the dangerous Gerrie Snyman, quite brilliantly caught by Alex Cusack on the deep midwicket boundary. Indeed Snyman himself couldn't believe he'd been dismissed saying, "I thought I'd got away with it, then this guy (Cusack) appears from nowhere and does a Superman act!"
That wasn't the end of Irish heroics in the field, as Andrew White's direct hit accounted for Louis van der Westhuizen, to leave Namibia floundering on 66 for 6.
They recovered thanks to a stubborn 62 from Nicolaas Scholtz, who after a slow, somewhat painful start, opened his shoulders in the final stages. Indeed he scored 3 consecutive boundaries off Peter Connell, all driven down the ground, as Ireland wilted a little towards the end of the innings. He found willing partners in Deon Kotze (33), and Ian van Zyl (31), with whom he added 59 for the 7th, and 67 for the 8th wickets. Van Zyl had the luckiest of breaks early on, when he was both stumped and caught behind off the same delivery, but neither umpire upheld the increasingly vocal appeals of Andrew White and Niall O'Brien.
One worry for the Irish bowlers was the concession of 31 extras, which boosted the Namibian final total to 213 for 9. While very respectable, it was never going to challenge an Irish batting line up full of confidence, and so it ultimately proved. Namibia though had the consolation of making it through to the Super 8 phase by dint of Oman's surprise 1 wicket win over Uganda.
Ireland now have Super 8 fixtures against Afghanistan (Saturday), UAE (Monday), Netherlands (Wednesday) and Kenya (Friday. To be absolutely certain of qualification for the 2011 World Cup, they will require two wins from these games, but by virtue of their strong run rate, one win may suffice.
- Peter Connell celebrates an early wicket
- Boyd Rankin bowls Craig Williams
- 50 for Nicolaas Scholtz
- Scholtz drives past the outstretched leg of Alex Cusack
- Ireland's Boyd Rankin celebrates a wicket
- Andrew White runs out Louis van der Westhuizen
- Boyd Rankin appeals for lbw against Raymond van Schoor
- Andrew White and William Porterfield celebrate
- Boundary for Ian van Zyl
- Deon Kotze bowling for Namibia
- 50 for Niall O'Brien
- Niall O'Brien off drives
- William Porterfield off drives
- Pulled away by Niall O'Brien
- Eoin Morgan sweeps
- Ireland's Man of the Match William Porterfield
- Ireland's squad and their travelling supporters
- Ireland huddle
- Andre Botha
- Peter Connell bowling
- Irish supporters
- Shouldering arms
- Raymond van Schoor boundary
- Boyd Rankin
- Appeal by Peter Connell
- Kevin O'Brien congratulates Peter Connell
- Peter Connell congratulated
- Boyd Rankin congratulated
- William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin
- Andrew White appeals
- Played to leg by Scholtz
- Lucky escape for Scholtz
- Cut away by Scholtz
- Mooney goes past the edge
- Swept away by Scholtz
- Boundary for Scholtz
- Driven away by van Zyl
- Runs for Van Zyl
- Stumping attempt by Niall O'Brien
- Scholtz and Kotze of Namibia
- Swept away by Kotze
- Swept by Scholtz to the boundary
- Good take by Niall O'Brien
- Played away by Scholtz
- Catching a few rays
- Great stop by John Mooney
- Boundary signalled by umpire Hurter
- Cut away by Louis Burger
- Kevin O'Brien bowling
- Wicket for Alex Cusack
- Great catch by Cusack
- Middle of the bat from Burger
- John Mooney bowling
- Runs for Scholtz
- Scholtz acknowledges his half century
- Scholtz is run out
- Hit away by Kotze
- On the treatment table
- Gerrie Snyman bowling
- Eoin Morgan keeps his eye on the ball
- William Porterfield batting
- Stan Mitchell riveted by the action
- William Porterfield
- Single for William Porterfield
- Return to the keeper
- Played away by Niall O'Brien
- Played to leg by Niall O'Brien
- Fielded by Gerrie Snyman
- Single for Porterfield
- Matt Dwyer of The Hills and Ireland
- 12th man Kyle McCallan
- Single for Kevin O'Brien