A record third-wicket partnership of 99 between Orla Prendergast and captain Laura Delany led Ireland to victory in the opening game of the three-match T20 International series against Scotland at the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh.
Player of the Match Prendergast's knock of 75 came from just 45 balls and was her highest international score for Ireland to date, while Delany batted at better than a run-a-ball to finish 36 not out.
Ireland won the toss and elected to bowl on a pitch that offered much for the seamers early, and while Prendergast and Arlene Kelly looked dangerous, it took a bowling change in the fifth over to make the initial breakthrough as Georgina Dempsey removed Ailsa Lister (25 from 19 balls), offering a high catch to Cara Murray at mid-on.
Kelly then clean bowled Abbie Aitken-Drummond for a duck, before right-arm spinner Eimear Richardson took the wicket of Sarah Bryce (14) in the eighth over. Bryce took a step down the wicket and was outfoxed by the delivery and was bowled.
With Scotland on 46-3 and with two new batters at the crease, Ireland’s bowlers slowed the run-rate with just 12 runs coming from the next 19 balls.
Lorna Jack and Saskia Horley then began to claw their way back into the game. The Australian-born Horley played impressively in her T20I debut, showing great poise at the crease as she put on 52 off 42 balls.
Their fourth-wicket partnership of 65 came to an end in the 18th over when Jack was stumped by Mary Waldron.
Two further wickets fell quickly, as Mary Waldron picked up her 50th ODI dismissal by stumping Priyanaz Chatterji (15), while Kelly finally dispatched the impressive Horley with the second last ball of the innings. Scotland finished on 133-6 from their 20 overs.
Despite losing Gaby Lewis for one in the second over, Amy Hunter and Prendergast built a nice 30-run partnership before Hunter (16) hit one straight to cover.
With Ireland on 38-2, skipper Delany joined Prendergast in what proved to be the decisive partnership of the match.
They began watchfully, then once settled in both batters became more expansive in their stroke-play. Looking extremely composed throughout, Prendergast smashed a huge six over the mid-on boundary off Katherine Fraser in the 12th over to move to 40, then continued her assault on the Scottish attack and brought up her 50 in the 13th over from just 35 balls.
Prendergast finished off the game with back-to-back boundaries and Ireland had cruised to victory with 22 balls remaining.
The sides will meet again on Tuesday at 1pm at the same venue for game two of the series.