|Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier, UAE 2012|
Ireland claim their place in Sri Lanka
Ireland’s formidable attack came through once again at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday morning, bowling with impeccable line and length, restricting Namibia to a disappointing 94 for six, and setting up a nine-wicket victory with almost ten overs to spare. It was the win which ensured that Ireland qualified for their third consecutive World Twenty20 tournament.
After Namibia’s surprise win on the tournament’s opening day, when they posted 160 for eight on the much smaller Global Cricket Academy No. 2 ground, the Irish seemed additionally motivated to exact revenge, and they gave absolutely nothing away from the start.
Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin began as sharply as usual, Johnston trapping Raymond van Schoor in front in his second over and having Louis van der Westhuizen caught at mid-on in his third, but the star of the show proved to be Max Sorensen, whose four overs yielded just eight runs for the wickets of Craig Williams and Sarel Burger, earning him the Man of the Match award.
So effective was Ireland’s policy of containment, to which the Namibians seemed to have no answer, that only 45 runs came from the first 12 overs, with Gerrie Snyman becalmed for 39 deliveries for an uncharacteristically pedestrian 17, with just a single boundary.
Skipper Burger contributed a somewhat brisker 20, but the best partnership of the innings came from Christiaan Opperman, top-scorer with an undefeated 15-ball 26, and Christi Viljoen, who put on 34 in the final overs to get their side up towards the hundred.
The stranglehold was so complete that William Porterfield did not need to turn to slow left-armer George Dockrell, with the only spin coming from Paul Stirling (one for 20). Johnston took two for 19 and Rankin one for 17, with Kevin O’Brien (none for 28) also bowling tightly, although his figures suffered slightly when Opperman hit a six off his final delivery.
Ireland moved straight into top gear when they replied, Porterfield and Stirling cracking 41 from 26 deliveries before the Irish captain pushed uppishly at Louis Klazinga and was well caught by Burger at midwicket.
Stirling continued unperturbed in partnership with Ed Joyce, reaching his half-century from just 26 balls – five more than he needed against Canada on Thursday – with eight fours and a six. The Namibian bowlers were quite unable to restrict his strokeplay, and when Stirling reverse-swept Opperman’s first ball to the third man boundary he had made 59 from 32 deliveries.
It had been an utterly commanding performance from Ireland, who will now meet defending champions Afghanistan in the tournament final on Saturday evening.