|Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier, UAE 2012|
Wilson stars as Ireland defeat Oman
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IT was the calm before the storm as Ireland completed a straightforward victory over Oman in their final Group B match at the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Abu Dhabi this morning.
With Namibia winning their final match against Italy this afternoon, to make it seven wins out of seven, Ireland finished second in the group and will now face Canada on Thursday in the first of three back to back morning matches (0600 GMT starts) to qualify for the finals in Sri Lanka in September.
This morning’s win, by the comfortable margin of 44 runs, was dominated, not for the first time this week, by Gary Wilson. The Surrey professional continued his remarkably consistent form with the bat by adding an unbeaten 52 to his tally of runs in this tournament, taking his average to a stunning 51.5.
Wilson made a steady start, not reaching a strike rate of 100 until he had scored 23, but the next 29 runs came off just 16 balls and his final boundary count was two fours and three sixes. Kevin O’Brien was even quicker, with a strike rate of exactly 200 but after hitting four successive fours off the 15th over, he holed out to long-off off the first ball of the next and he was so disappointed that he didn’t take off his helmet on his return to the dressing room.
Andrew Poynter was the surprise selection in the starting line-up, just nine hours after stepping off the plane from Dublin, to replace the injured John Mooney, who was today flying in the opposite direction, his tournament over.
Poynter, rather than Rory McCann, the Instonians wicket-keeper, took the place of the rested Trent Johnston and duly came in at No 6. But, hardly surprisingly, he could add only five runs to his aggregate of 10 in his three previous Twenty20 matches for Ireland, before he was caught off the leading edge at backward point.
Andrew White proved the perfect foil for Wilson at the end to complete a commanding batting performance which had been launched by Paul Stirling’s quickfire 35, including four fours and a six. He, too, though, will have been disappointed not to have gone on to a big score. Ireland will hope he is saving it for the games that matter.
With 160 on the board, the second innings proved a formality. Boyd Rankin was again much too good for the batsmen, conceding just three singles and a two in his three overs while claiming his 12th wicket of the tournament.
Nigel Jones and Kevin O’Brien’s figures were both ruined by expensive last overs but Max Sorensen finished well after bowling three wides in his first over. The spinners bowled the last five overs with the game won.
If Ireland beat Canada they will then play the winners of the game between Scotland and the Netherlands in the Elimination Final on Friday and victory there would set up a clash against the losers of Thursday's afternoon's match between the two group winners, Namibia and Afghanistan, to determine the second and final place in Sri Lanka, alongside the 10 Full Members.