|Under 19 World Cup Qualifier: Ireland, July-August 2011|
Ireland given scare by USA
IRELAND may be favourites to win the Under 19 World Cup qualifying tournament but they were taken to the penultimate ball of the match by the USA yesterday before winning by the minimum margin.
Set 178 for victory – a total reduced because of two short runs in the final over of the Americans’ innings – Ireland were slow out of the starting blocks and lost their first six wickets for 86. But, first, a seventh wicket stand of 44 between Graeme McCarter and Adam Coughlan and then 40 for the eighth between Coughlan and Barry McCarthy left the hosts just six short of victory.
But both the eighth wicket heroes were caught up in the excitement of the moment and first McCarthy, after taking eight off the first three balls of the 47th over, tickled one down the leg side, and then Coughlan, on 49, swept across the line and was plumb in front leaving Ireland three runs short and last man Niall Hodgins walking to the middle.
At the other end was Josh Hall, the Waringstown all-rounder only called into the squad as a late replacement on Monday and only called into the game half an hour before the toss because Shane Getkate pulled up with a leg strain.
But after Hodgins kept out four balls, it was Hall who hit the last gasp winning boundary with the USA scenting a second successive victory over Ireland, the only game the Irish lost two years ago.
Earlier, an impressive spell of bowling by Salman Ahmad put the USA in control with Hugh MacDonnel and Jason van der Merwe falling to the opening bowler and Ryan Hunter caught behind at the other end. Meanwhile, Adam Berry was leading a charmed life, dropped on one and and 17 before he too was third time unlucky, caught at backward point in the 21st over. Two balls later Andy McBrine was trapped plumb in front and Ireland were 69 for five.
George Dockrell, batting at No 5, was Ireland's best batsmen in the two warm-up games so when he was caught at extra cover before halfway, Ireland were in big trouble. But this team bats deep and even when McCarter was stumped for 35, Ireland had enough resiliance to see them through.
The Ireland bowling was steady rather than spectacular with Barry McCarthy the pick of the seven used by Dockrell. The Pembroke all rounder took three for 32 in his 10 overs, including danger opener Steven Taylor for a hard-hitting 28. Hall also did well although he had to wait until the final over to pick up a wicket but the captain will be disappointed to have six wides in his analysis and 25 in all in the total. Must do better but at least it was a first day win - just!
Scores: USA 177-9 (J Singh 36; B McCarthy 3-32, A McBrine 2-21) Ireland 180-9 (49.5 overs, A Coughlan 49, G McCarter 35, G Dockrell 29, A Berry 22; S Ahmad 3-29, J Singh 3-33). Ireland won by one wicket.