Cross charges Scotland to 6 wicket win
Ireland 146/5 (20 overs) Rankin 33, K O'Brien 30, Leask 2/23, Sharif 2/31, Davey 1/22, lost to Scotland 150/4 (16.1 overs) Cross 60, Wallace 26*, Berrington 24*, by 6 wickets [Scorecard]
Despite having lost the toss, Preston Mommsen’s side were exemplary with the ball in the opening powerplay, conceding just 34 runs.
The pressure paid in that period too, Safyaan Sharif cleaning up Stuart Poynter in the first over, before John Anderson chipped the simplest of chances to Mark Watt at short midwicket off the same bowler.
The pitch did not prove easy to bat on, as everyone, except Kevin O’Brien it would seem, struggled to time the ball with any fluency off both seam and spin.
Two Michael Leask wickets at key moments also helped to keep Ireland’s scoring down, first forcing Andrew Pointer to drag on an attempted sweep, and then clean bowling Rankin, who had been poised to kick on after a run-a-ball 34.
Another key victim was Kevin O’Brien who became Josh Davey’s first wicket after returning from injury, caught well by Ally Evans on the cover boundary in distinctly blustery conditions.
On a slow pitch, Ireland found or cleared the rope only periodically, rather than regularly, but would not lose another wicket, as Stuart Thompson and Max Sorensen got them up towards the 150 mark that looked par for the course.
In contrast to Ireland’s innings, Scotland started with confidence. The early loss of George Munsey gave Matt Cross the chance to exploit the powerplay, making 30 in next to no time, and helping the chasing side to 59-1 off their first six overs.
With the field spread, Cross continued to find the rope, even if he was given a second life by Andrew McBrine at short extra cover, but his innovative strokeplay and pure timing deserved at least a little luck.
Cross went to his maiden T20I half-century in typically tricky style, reverse-sweeping McBrine for yet another four, before following it up with an even better drive over cover.
However, Cross was caught soon after for 60, and Leask fell first ball, cleaned bowled by the debutant Tyrone Kane, who then claimed Kyle Coetzer as well, all in the same over.
With two new men at the crease, an awkward pace of pitch, and a run a ball required, Ireland would have been hopeful of putting the pressure on, but the experience of Richie Berrington and Craig Wallace told.
Berrington was dropped, Anderson inexplicably shelling a high catch at cover, but it didn’t faze the all-rounder, if anything spurring him on to see out the game, which he and Craig Wallace managed in the gathering gloom with little distress.
Scotland’s hero Matt Cross heralded his performance as his best in a Scotland shirt.
“It’s everyone’s strategy to take advantage of the early overs in T20, but on a pitch that was a little bit slow, with the field up, it made it a lot easy to get after them.
“The pitch played the way I expected to: it was a little bit slow, and there was a bit of grip for the spinners, so I thought 150 or maybe 160 was par, but we just batted really well.
“We got ahead of the game and didn’t let them back into it, despite a little bit of a wobble, but our batting is so deep at the moment. We’ve got guys batting at nine and ten who can still bat properly and hit sixes so it gives us a lot of confidence as a group.”