Ireland went into the match with an unchanged line-up from the one that defeated Oman on Wednesday, and after losing the toss the men in green were asked to bat first.
Stirling and O’Brien cut loose from the first over, hitting a record opening stand of 115 runs from 70 balls - this was not only the highest first-wicket partnership for Ireland in T20I cricket, but the highest partnership for any wicket in T20Is.
O’Brien was the chief aggressor early, bringing up for 50 off 31 balls, eventually dismissed for 65 off 38 balls (including four sixes and five fours). O’Brien’s innings was his highest ever T20I score and took him past 3,000 career runs in the T20 format.
Shortly after O’Brien’s dismissal, Stirling brought up his half-century – his third in consecutive innings on this tour – but fell soon after for 56 (off 42 balls, two sixes and five fours). Stirling has not let the captaincy burden his performance, and in his four innings on the current tour he has hit 213 runs at an average of 53.25.
After the blistering start, Scotland’s bowlers pulled the scoring rate right back taking regular wickets, with the 22-year old left-arm spinner Mark Watt leading the counter-attack taking 3-26 off his 4 overs.
Late runs to Shane Getkate (16) and George Dockrell (15*) saw Ireland reach 180-7 from their 20 overs. This was the highest score by a team at the tournament so far, but after the start they had, Ireland would have considered the total at least 20 runs short of par.
The Scottish response matched – and indeed, bettered the run-rate of - the explosive start of the Irish, and they put on 109 from 52 balls. George Munsey, after hitting a remarkable 32 from 11 balls in the last match, brought up his half-century from 26 balls, but was dismissed the next ball by Shane Getkate. His opening partner, Scottish captain Kyle Coetzer was not to be outshone – he brought up his fifty from 24 balls and went on to make 74 from 38 balls.
While the Irish bowlers reined in the scoring rate, Scotland’s middle-order batters led by Calum MacLeod (35*) saw the Scots home with nine balls to spare.
Ireland will rue a number of catches that went down at crucial times – and one catch claimed off a no-ball – however cannot deny that the Scottish side deserved the win.
For Ireland, the bowling of 19-year old left arm paceman Josh Little again impressed with 0-33 from 4 overs, following his 2-24 against Oman, and Shane Getkate claiming his first two international wickets to go with his batting effort, which again underscored his all-round abilities.
Following the game, Ireland Captain Paul Stirling said:
“The score was a little below par - we were positioned to get 220-plus, so it was disappointing to scrape the 180 in the end after the start that we got off to. Big improvements are needed in those overs from 13 to 17, we weren’t good enough at rotating the strike and finding the boundaries. That's what cost us those 20 runs.”
“We have a lot we need to improve on [before the Netherlands on Sunday], both with the bat and the ball - so pinpointing one would be wrong of me. We'll re-group and do a lot of learning before the Holland game, but make sure we treat the Holland game as separate from the Scotland game. We’ll do our homework on the Dutch and go in there knowing what we need to do to win the game.”
Asked about whether Kevin O’Brien’s elevation to opener has given him a new T20 lease of life, Stirling said:
“Yeah I think it has. It makes it slightly more easy for him earlier on with only two men out, and we've put a few partnerships together now, so that seems to be a positive so far. Hopefully he can go and kick on now - that was his first T20 fifty for Ireland so hopefully he can go and make many more now.”
In the other tournament fixture today, Netherlands defeated Oman by 8 wickets and lead the tournament standings with two wins from two
Ireland’s next match is on Sunday against Netherlands, with a start time of 5.15am, GMT.
Oman v Ireland, T20 International, 13 February 2019, Al Almerat Cricket Ground, Muscat
Ireland 180-7 (20 overs; K O’Brien 65, P Stirling 56; M Watt 3-26)
Scotland 181-4 (18.3 overs; K Coetzer 74, G Munsey 50; S Getkate 2-15)
Scotland won by 6 wickets
© Cricket World 2019