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Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)

Ireland too strong for Scotland

IRELAND confirmed their superiority over Scotland with an emphatic six wickets victory in the third match of the Tri-Series in Dubai yesterday.

After beating the Scots by more than 200 runs in the Intercontinental Cup in the UAE last month, they were just as dominant with the white ball, bowling them out for 219 and charging home with more than 15 overs to spare. Following back to back victories against UAE, Ireland will clinch the trophy with another win in their final match against Scotland tomorrow. On this evidence it should be a formality.

There was even the remarkable sight yesterday of Paul Stirling scoring just three runs in a 50 runs partnership with Andy Balbirnie after skipper William Porterfield had been bowled second ball. Admittedly Stirling faced just 11 balls, compared to his partner's 36 but it underscored Balbirnie's confidence in his technique.

Fresh from a maiden one-day international century on Saturday, Balbirnie hit nine fours and a six, off a free hit, in his 50 which came off just 42 balls and although he was stumped off a wide 17 runs later, Ireland were already halfway to their target in only the 17th over.

Stirling followed four overs later, caught in the deep for 38 with just four boundaries, but following two early dismissals, it was vital he spent time in the middle and the big score at a much higher strike rate will surely follow.

Niall O'Brien was the other batsmen who needed runs under his belt and, promoted to No 4, he enjoyed himself against the friendly Scottish bowling, hitting two sixes and five fours in his 55, from 53 balls while Stirling's dismissal let in Ed Joyce who with his sixth run brought up 2,000 ODI runs for Ireland at an average of 41.6.

Boyd Rankin, like Joyce restored to the side after a one-game rest, was the pick and most successful of the bowlers who all got among the wickets at regular intervals — the highest Scottish stand was 61.

As a result, Porterfield wasagain able to use just his front-line attack with spinners George Dockrell and Andy McBrine the most economical, taking 2-72 in their 20 overs.

It was also confirmed yesterday that Ireland will, indeed, be the 11th country to play a Test match. Afghanistan, who were elevated to Test match status at the same time as Ireland last year, will play their first in Bangalore, against India on June 14-18, five weeks after Pakistan play in Malahide.

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