Balbirnie ton anchors Ireland to vital CWCQ win

Andy Balbirnie scored his second ODI century as Ireland picked up a vital victory over Scotland, by 25 runs, in the World Cup Qualifier in Harare on Sunday.

Balbirnie struck 105 as Ireland defended a target of 272 to secure a victory that just about keeps them in the hunt for one of the two spots up for grabs at next year’s World Cup.

Batting at number three, Balbirnie walked to the crease in the first over with the total on one after the dismissal of opener Paul Stirling for a duck.

Ireland captain William Porterfield, who had earlier lost the toss and was sent in to bat, (17) was bowled by Brad Wheal in the 12th over and that brought Niall O’Brien to crease.

Balbirnie and O’Brien combined to add 138 for the third wicket with the latter contributing a run-a-ball 70.

Kevin O’Brien then added some much-needed impetus in the innings when he blazed 46 from just 27 balls but Ireland lost a host of wickets as they ended on 271/9 in 50 overs.

Wheal was the most successful Scottish bowler with figures of 3-43 in 10 overs while fellow seamer Safyaan Sharif took two wickets.

Scotland initially made a good fist of the run-chase, reaching 94/1 in the 19th over, but the wheels started to come off in the middle-overs as they lost wickets at regular intervals, collapsing to 132/6.

Captain Kyle Coetzer (61) was one of those vital scalps to fall while Richie Berrington hit 44 batting at number four.

At 123/6 it looked like the game was all over but Sharif (34) and Mark Watt (31) swung the willow to good effect to take the total closer than what everyone had thought.

Ireland seamer Boyd Ranking took 4-63 while off-spinner Simi Singh bowled nicely for figures of 2-33 in 10 overs.