Ireland beat UAE and close in on World Cup spot
Updated: Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 17:05
Ireland cruised to a six wicket victory over UAE in their World Cricket League encounter at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the UAE.
The win leaves Ireland six points clear at the top of the World Cricket League table and seemingly on course to claim a place in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Helped by the bowling of Trent Johnston, who took four wickets, Ireland held UAE to a modest target of 196 on a very run-friendly pitch.
In reply Ireland set about their task well, overcoming the early wicket of Paul Strirling, who was caught behind when attempting an optimistic sweep off Shadeep Silva.
William Porterfield helped to steady the ship after that, eventually putting together a total of 77 before being caught by Khurram Khan when he took a wild swipe at Muhammad Azam’s delivery.
By then however, Ireland were in complete control and could afford to take their time without forcing the issue.
A final half-century partnership between Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien was enough to see Phil Simmons' men home with O’Brien wrapping things up with a booming four off Nazir Aziz.
Ireland now head the World Cricket League table on 17 points after ten games, with Afghanistan and Scotland in joint second on 11 points. The UAE, Kenya and the Netherlands sit on 10 points, but the Netherlands have two games in hand to come against group minnows Namibia.
Ireland are in a dominant position and a return of three points from their remaining four matches would guarantee them a place at cricket’s showpiece event.
Next up for the Irish is a trip to Amsterdam where they face the Netherlands on 7/9 July, and they round off their World Cricket League campaign against Scotland at Stormont on 6/8 September.
"I won’t be on that plane unless Phil wants a bowling coach or something like that. It’s too far away" Trent Johnston
Johnston was delighted with both his own personal form and that of the team, saying: "It was a great performance and fantastic to get four points. It was very hard to come here and get two wins from these guys.
“They were unbeaten in four games at home, so we probably have one foot on the plane to Australia. We haven’t spoken about it yet but Simmo (Phil Simmons) will want us to go out and win those four remaining games and finish on 25 points (out of 28) - That’s our goal."
With the tournament 22 months away, Johnston who turns 39 next month admitted it was just too much to ask for him to be there in a playing capacity: "I won’t be on that plane unless Phil wants a bowling coach or something like that. It’s too far away.
"My only concern is to get the guys on that plane and come back here in December and win the five-day (Intercontinental Cup) final," the veteran seamer added.