Gareth Delany starred with bat and ball in Abu Dhabi as Ireland comprehensively defeated Oman at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
In warm conditions, Ireland lost the toss and were sent in to bat – a decision that the Omani’s would rue.
The Irish team had arrived at the ground bearing bad news, that in-form batter Andy Balbirnie had succumbed to an illness and ruled out of the game, but that would not hamper the men in green.
Ireland’s top order batters were in a positive mood, looking to make amends for the last-match loss to UAE on Saturday.
Paul Stirling (11) and Kevin O’Brien (41) started out by putting on 34 for the first wicket from just over four overs.
During the partnership O’Brien hit a massive six over mid-wicket early, which broke a world-record for the most sixes hit by a batsman in T20 International cricket in a calendar year (35 to date), and despite losing Stirling soon after for 11, Ireland’s run rate did not abate.
Twenty-two-year-old Delany, in only his 12th T20 International since making his debut in July, smashed 89 not out from 49 balls, including nine fours and three sixes.
His innings was Ireland’s third highest individual score in T20 internationals, with the five highest individual T20 international scores now all coming in 2019.
Losing partner O’Brien with the score on 76 in the 10th over, Delany was joined by 19-year-old Harry Tector and the run rate accelerated further. Tector hit two sixes and a boundary in his innings of 28, sharing a quickfire 43-run stand.
Tector's dismissal saw Mark Adair come to the crease, but the usually big-hitting Adair took on the support role and let Delany continue to pummel the Omani attack. The pair put on 64 runs in the last five overs, with Adair contributing 11. Delany was in the zone - at one stage took 33 runs from 11 balls.
Ireland finished its 20 overs with 183-3, setting the Oman side a challenging target on a slowly wearing pitch.
In response, Oman were never really in the running.
Despite some big hitting by opener Khawar Ali (50 from 34 balls), the Omani batters could not keep pace with a steadily increasing run rate required.
The Irish bowlers took wickets at regular intervals, not letting their opponents build a threatening partnership.
Delany completed his 'on-song’ day by claiming 2-29 from four overs, including the wicket of Ali.
Adair again bowled well taking 2-24, and George Dockrell chimed in with 2-24. While only claiming a single scalp, the pace and bounce of Boyd Rankin was difficult for Oman to handle, and he ended with 1-20 from his four overs.
Oman finished on 148-9, with Ireland winning by 35 runs.
Ireland's next game is against Canada on Wednesday. Currently second in Pool B, Ireland need a top-six finish overall in the qualifying tournament to secure a place at the T20 World Cup, which takes place in Australia next year.