Ireland rode on the back of a clinical effort to seal a convincing 46-run win over USA in a Group A match of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Belfast on Sunday (July 12).
Andy Balbirnie’s 34-ball 44 helped Ireland recover from early jitters to post 146 for 6 in 20 overs. Its pacers then bowled USA out for 100 in 16.3 overs to help register its second win in the competition.
Put in to bat, Ireland lost Niall O’Brien and Paul Stirling, the openers, inside four overs. While Hammad Shahid struck with his first ball to send Stirling back for 8, Jasdeep Singh had Niall caught by Shahid at mid-on.
Timil Patel, the legspinner, then trapped William Porterfield, the captain, plumb in front. Kevin O’Brien went for a big one off Patel, but failed to get all of it and was caught on the long-on boundary for 23 as Ireland was left struggling at 57 for 4 in 9.4 overs.
It was Balbirnie’s knock that steadied the ship somewhat. Balbirnie shared a 35-run fifth-wicket stand with Gary Wilson before the wicketkeeper-batsman lobbed up a simple catch to Fahad Babar at cover for 8. Although Balbirnie fell to Shahid in the penultimate over, Stuart Thompson (15 not out) and John Mooney (20 not out) shared an unbroken 29-run stand to take Ireland to a competitive total.
For USA, Patel returned 3 for 13, while Shahid took 2 for 36 in his four overs.
Chasing 147 for victory, USA’s batsmen failed to string together any considerable partnerships. Alex Cusack, the right-arm pacer, struck in the first over when he had Akeem Dodson caught behind for nought. Fahad Babar and Alex Amsterdam tried to rebuild with a 21-run second-wicket stand but Thompson, the right-arm pacer, struck first ball to dismiss Babar for 10.
George Dockrell too struck in his first over, trapping Nicholas Standford lbw for 19. With most of its batsmen failing to get to even double figures, USA folded for a modest 100. Cusack, Thompson and John Mooney took two wickets apiece.
With two wins from as many matches, Ireland tops the Group A points table, while USA, which has lost both its matches, is yet to get off the mark.
USA takes on Namibia at the same venue on Monday, while Ireland will be up against Nepal later on the same day.