|Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier, UAE 2012|
Canada no match for Ireland
Paul Stirling reclaimed his fastest fifty record in Dubai as Ireland thrashed Canada by 10 wickets in the first of a possible three sudden death play-off matches in the World Twenty20 qualifiers.
Stirling hit three sixes to reach his half-century in only 21 balls and with captain William Porterfield making a rapid 42 not out, Ireland passed Canada’s total of 106-8 in barely half an hour - with 10.3 overs to spare.
The Netherlands are likely to provide a much tougher test for Ireland with Namibia awaiting the winners to determine who joins Afghanistan at the World Twenty20 finals.
The victory over Canada was set up by a fine opening spell from Railway Union veteran Trent Johnston, who took a miserly 2-9 from his four overs to pip Stirling to the man-of-the-match award.
The Hills paceman Max Sorensen followed Johnston’s lead to claim 3-20 while Leinster teenager George Dockrell also took three wickets to leave the Ireland batsman with a relatively straightforward task.
Stirling’s pyrotechnics made it extremely simple. Ironically, it was his partner Porterfield who had scored a 23-ball half-century against Kenya earlier in the tournament to snatch the 25-ball record the Middlesex blaster had set against the Netherlands at last year’s World Cup.
“Porty had taken the record off me so it was nice to get it back again,” Stirling said. “At one stage I thought he was going to take it off me in the same innings because he was going well too. I had to make sure there weren’t enough runs left for him to score 50!
“We’ve got a lot of momentum now with seven wins in a row but the Dutch are one of the strongest sides and it’s going to be tough against them. It could be one of the games of the tournament.”
Afghanistan became the first of the non-Test playing nations to reach the finals when they beat Namibia - the other group winners - by 47 runs.