|European Women's Championship: Stirling, August 2010|
Ireland seal place in World Cup qualifier as they defeat The Netherlands in an exciting finish
Ireland had a major scare before getting home by three wickets in the ODI against The Netherlands. Facing a Dutch total of just 125, they collapsed to 76 for six and then 85 for seven before an eigth wicket partnership of 37 between Isobel Joyce and Louise McCarthy saw them home to victory in the 40th over. However, it could have been a very different story if the Dutch fielding in the later stages had been sharper; in particular, two runout opportunities were missed that would have broken the partnership between Joyce and McCarthy early on.
The damp, cloudy, conditions at the start meant the Irish had no hesitation in asking The Netherlands to bat first. The Dutch went off at a fast pace but in doing so lost both openers, Wattenberg and De Groot. A third wicket soon followed with the score on 38 when Monday's centurion, Carolien Salomons, played over the top of a delivery from Laura Delaney. Three wickets then fell in the sixties to leave the Dutch innings tottering at 66 for six, as Louise McCarthy claimed two victims in a spell of five overs in which she conceded just six runs.
However, the seventh wicket partnership of Denise Hannema and Esther Lanser added 31 before another pair of wickets fell in quick succession. It was left to the last wicket pair of Braat and Kornet to bat out the remaining overs to enable their side to post a final total of 125.
Given that Ireland had chased down 161 against Scotland on Monday, it didn't appear that this would be a target that might test the Irish batting line-up. But once again an opener was run out (in all four of today's matches the first wicket to fall was the result of a run out). Laura Delany was beaten by Helmien Rambaldo's throw; she was soon followed back by Eimear Richardson (for a quick 21) and Jill Whelan as Ireland faltered at 29 for three.
However, Emma Beamish and Melissa Scott-Hayward steadied the innings and took the score to 74 before another wicket fell. But, when Scott-Hayward was caught by Lanser a mini-collapse took place as Kim Garth went for a duck and then Emma Beamish (18) was caught by Rambaldo. 76 for six and the Dutch were back in the game. When Heather Whelan was run out nine runs later, the Dutch appeared to be favourites to win.
The experience of Isobel Joyce was to prove to be the difference between the two sides as she, with excellent support from Louise McCarthy, kept out the good deliveries and took advantage of anything loose. Helped by Dutch fielding which suddenly lost its earlier sharpness, the two kept their composure to steer their side home - the winning runs coming from two wide deliveries. Indeed, the Dutch bowlers gave away 26 wides, which was undoubtedly a major factor in their inability to defend their own total.
Joyce's 36 had seen the Irish home to a victory that sealed their progress to the next stage of the World Cup qualification process and leaves the Dutch needing to defeat Scotland.