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Ian Callender

Cool Poynter delivers for Ireland

STUART Poynter was the coolest man in the ground after he hit the last ball for six to give Ireland their second victory of the Quadrangular tournament in Oman. The bowler, Paul van Meekeren, lay prostrate on the ground in disbelief.

The Netherlands pace man had been his side's hero, repeatedly halting Ireland's charge for victory, first with the wicket of captain Paul Stirling in his opening over, then Shane Getkate and Ireland's main man, Andrew Balbirnie, in the space of three balls and with the fourth ball of the last over, Boyd Rankin's attempt to hit him for the winning six ended gently in the hands of point.

The batsmen crossed to get Poynter in strike for the penultimate delivery and when he mistimed a pull, he turned down the single and told No 11 Peter Chase to stay at the other end. He would finish the job – and he did, becoming the first player to hit a six off the last ball to win a T20 match with six required.

It was Ireland's first T20 victory by the minimum margin and while Balbirnie's 83 and Poynter's magnificent hit got them over the line, the bowlers, yet again, made it so much harder for their batsmen.

Five wides and two no balls gave the Dutch an extra seven balls and at least another 18 runs in the powerplay which ended with the Dutch on 77-0. The 100 came up in the eighth over, three balls quicker than against Scotland on Friday but, in amazing turnaround, Ireland took seven wickets for 36 runs in 50 balls to reduce the Oranjemen to 154-7.

Stuart Thompson, recalled in place of Lorcan Tucker, in the only change to the first two games, took three wickets in his second over, having earlier struck his third ball to give him his best figures for Ireland and with George Dockrell going at almost nine runs an over, Stirling brought himself on and conceded just 13 runs in his three overs to haul Ireland into the contest.

To be fair to Dockrell, he did make the breakthrough, the huge wicket of Tim Visee, caught at short thirdman for 78, from just 36 balls (12 fours and three sixes) while Rankin, after being hit for four successive fours in his first over, came back to take 2-11 in the death overs. Josh Little, trusted with the final two overs at the other end, in preference to Peter Chase, again impressed albeit without a wicket to his name.

The most encouragement, though, came in the Ireland chase as Ireland proved they could total over 180 with Stirling and Kevin O'Brien contributing less than 50.

Balbirnie became Ireland's highest scorer in an official T20 international, hitting 12 fours and a six and Dockrell, Simi Singh, Little and, of course, Poynter proved they could hit boundaries when required.

Much work, however, still lies ahead with Afghanistan lying in wait when they arrive in India this evening.

But James Shannon will not be joining them. The Northern Knights skipper hasn't recovered from the shoulder problem which forced his early return from the Ireland Wolves tour last month. No decision has been taken yet on whether a replacement will join the T20 squad who will play the first three games, starting on Thursday.

Scotland won the Oman tournament on a superior run-rate, after beating Oman in the final game by seven wickets to pip Netherlands and relegate Ireland to third. All three teams won two games.

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