Ireland in thrilling tied match after big run chase against Scotland

Paul Stirling plays through point
©Cricket Ireland
 
Stirling belts one through point
©Cricket Ireland
 
Gary Wilson hits hard through cover
©Cricket Ireland
 

Ireland and Scotland played out a thrilling high-scoring tie in the second T20 International between the sides in two days – the first tied match in T20 Internationals since 2015.

Earlier in the day Scotland’s captain Kyle Coetzer won the toss and elected to bat first under grey, overcast skies.

For the second match in a row, Scottish openers Coetzer and George Munsey got the innings off to a flyer, bringing up a half-century partnership in four overs, and going on to register a 93-run opening stand off just 49 balls. 25-year old Munsey was the early aggressor, taking to each of Ireland’s bowlers with some lusty hitting. His innings came to an end with a miscued shot to Peter Chase in the gully, but his 46 runs off 25 balls (5 x fours, 2 x sixes) had set a good platform for his side.

However, counter to this early script, Ireland’s bowlers fought back by bowling a tighter and fuller line, with Captain Gary Wilson rotating through the bowlers so the Scottish batsmen were never settled. The tight bowling resulted in just 26 runs coming from overs 10 to 15 of the Scottish innings for the loss of Coetzer for 54 runs (41 balls; 7 x fours).

Calum MacLeod, centurion batting hero for the Scots against the English last week, finished on 46* (39 balls; 5 x fours) and Matthew Cross crashed three vital boundaries in the last two overs to add important runs, but Ireland’s bowlers will be pleased they pulled back an innings that, at the halfway mark, looked like a 200-plus total.

The Scotland total of 185-4 off 20 overs was their second highest T20I team total ever, just four runs shy of their highest total against Hong Kong in 2017.

In response, the Irish batsmen set about a measured innings, but knowing that they realistically needed to find a boundary every over to keep the target in check.

Paul Stirling obliged by hitting hard and long on numerous occasions, and registering his second half-century on the trot. His 68-run partnership with Simi Singh (26 runs off 23 balls; 3 x fours) positioned Ireland well in the run chase and gave the batters to come a reachable target, if they were required.

Stirling was eventually out for 81, cutting a high ball outside off stump which was caught at short third man. His score was not only his personal highest T20I score, but was also the new record highest individual score for an Irish batsman (passing his own record of 79 runs).

Wilson (20 runs from 14 balls) and the experienced Kevin O’Brien (28 runs from 17 balls) put on a 39-run stand in 24 balls, but neither could see it out – Wilson gloving a bouncer to the keeper and O’Brien falling to a sensational juggling outfield catch by Dylan Budge.

The game fluctuated in momentum in the final overs until the match came down to the last ball. The equation was clear, Ireland needed three runs to win with Stuart Thompson on strike. Scottish bowler Safyaan Sharif dealt with the pressure well by pitching it up in the blockhole with Thompson only able to drive along the ground to long on for two runs. The match was a tie.

 This is the first tied match in T20 International cricket since England and Pakistan fought out a tie in 2015.

 SCORECARD

4th Match, Netherlands Tri-Nation T20I Series at Deventer, 17 June 2018

 SCOTLAND 185-4 (20 overs; K Coetzer 54, C MacLeod 46*, G Munsey 46; S Singh 1-34)

IRELAND 185-6 (20 overs; P Stirling 81, K O’Brien 28, S Singh 26; S Sharif 2-31)

Match tied