Ireland came out on top in the tri-series in Dubai that provided crucial preparation in the battle for qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The six-match series at the ICC Academy provided game-time for Ireland and Scotland ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, which will run from 4-25 March in Zimbabwe, and for the UAE in preparation for the ICC World Cricket League Division 2, which will be staged in Namibia from 8-15 February.
Ireland head coach Graham Ford said: “During the tri-series, the lads made good progress with most of the batsmen finding good form. It was particularly pleasing to see the top order converting starts into big match winning scores.
“The bowlers worked well as a unit to put the opposition batsmen under pressure. It was also good to see that they are getting more confident and more efficient with their variations.
“It was good to come away with four victories, however the lads do realise that there is still plenty of hard work to be done and that they will have to be at their best to enjoy success at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier which will be a highly competitive event.”
Scotland head coach Grant Bradburn said: “This series has been a tough challenge against quality opposition, but valuable in many ways. We have seen new players take opportunities to show they are very capable at this level. We have also spent valuable time developing plans and combinations for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.”
The UAE captain Rohan Mustafa said: “This tri-series has been a fantastic warm up leading into ICC World Cricket League Division 2.
“Both Ireland and Scotland are strong teams and we have enjoyed this invaluable opportunity, and the challenge they have given us. By winning the final match (against Scotland) the boys are exceptionally happy, and we will take this confidence into the ICC WCL Division 2.”
Ireland completed a clean-sweep of the matches, defeating the UAE in their first two matches by four wickets and 67 runs, respectively. Continuing that form, Ireland defeated Scotland by six wickets and 24 runs in matches three and four, respectively.
In the final two matches, Scotland and the UAE shared the spoils, with a 31-run victory for the Scots in the fifth and the UAE securing their only victory by four wickets in the final match.
For Ireland, it provided an opportunity for a number of different batsmen to make match-winning scores. Ed Joyce led the team to a four-wicket victory against the UAE in the first match with 116 not out from 149 balls and was supported by Gary Wilson (53).
In the second match against the UAE, a stunning 201-run second wicket partnership between captain William Porterfield, who scored 139 runs from 147 balls, and Andrew Balbirnie, who 102 runs from 109 balls, set-up a 67-run victory. With the ball, Kevin O’Brien ensured victory as he took four wickets for 41 runs.
Andrew Balbirnie continued his form in match three against Scotland, scoring 67 runs from 55 balls and Boyd Rankin secured three wickets for 49 runs to claim a six-wicket victory. In Ireland’s final match, Paul Stirling top scored with 74 runs from 88 balls as Ireland beat Scotland by 24 runs and secured a clean sweep.
Scotland’s Matthew Cross led the team to victory over the UAE by 31 runs after scoring 107 runs from 110 balls not out, with support from George Munsey (45) in the middle-order in the fifth game.
The UAE fought back in the final match as Rameez Shahzad’s innings of 121 runs from 115 balls and bowler Mohammad Naveed three wickets for 47 runs, handed UAE a four-wicket victory over the Scots.
Ireland and Scotland will next travel to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, to be played in Zimbabwe from 4 to 25 March, where they will join the hosts, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and the Windies.
The UAE will travel to the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 to take place between 8 and 15 February in Namibia. They will join Canada, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal and Oman as all six teams will battle it out for the remaining two ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier spots.
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Tri-series results at the ICC Academy, Dubai
11 January – Ireland beat UAE by 4 wickets
13 January – Ireland beat UAE by 67 runs
16 January – Ireland beat Scotland by 6 wickets
18 January – Ireland beat Scotland by 24 runs
21 January – Scotland beat UAE by 31 runs
23 January – UAE beat Scotland by 4 wickets