Scotland finish Ireland series with a convincing win

12 Sep

Ireland 241/9 (50 overs) Mooney 96, Haq 54/5, Evans 1/27, Sharif 2/44, lost to Scotland 243/2 (45.4 overs) MacLeod 116*, Gardiner 89, Mommsen 31*, by 8 wickets [Scorecard]

A mammoth 179 run second wicket partnership between Hamish Gardiner and Calum Macleod, led Scotland to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Ireland at Malahide to end their One-day International series on a high. 

Man-of-the-match MacLeod hit a fine century. The 25-year-old carried his bat and top scored with 116 not out, hitting fifteen fours. Gardiner’s 89 from 98 balls helped lay the platform for victory and he will be annoyed that he did not get the 11 runs for the milestone but take comfort in his superb innings.

Chasing Ireland’s 241/9 a destructive 31 not out off 29 balls with a six and three fours, from Scotland captain Preston Mommsen, made sure that there were no wobbles at the end of the chase. 

This was as comprehensive a performance and result from Scotland and the highlight of coach Grant Bradburn’s nascent reign. The New Zealand coach will be delighted with his team’s display. 

All the talk and hard work has paid off and although the Scots lost the three-match series 2-1, they ended on a high and will continue to build from this experience. 

Earlier, Majid Haq starred with the ball, taking his maiden five-wicket haul after John Mooney scored 96 for the hosts. 

Scotland’s chances of winning the match hinged on the batsmen scoring 20 runs more to win today then they scored in the previous match and to do this, the top order had to fire. 

Both sides made one change from Wednesday’s second ODI; Iain Wardlaw making way for Safyaan Sharif, earning his fiftieth cap for Scotland and Graeme McCarter replacing Andy McBrine in the Ireland line up. 

The sun was out and would make batting easier than in the morning. The outfield drying up enabled the ball to come on to the bat, giving value for strokes. 

Wicket-keeper Matthew Cross endured a lean series - scoring 4 and 9 – and was out hooking in the second over for 1, caught by Max Sorensen off the bowling of Craig Young. 

Gardiner joined MacLeod and both scored freely; playing some wonderful shots down the ground between extra cover and mid off, took the score to 50 after ten overs. 

Gardiner and MacLeod scored quickly, taking advantage of the batting power play and giving their team the start they needed after being 101/7 and 48/5 on Monday and Wednesday respectively. 

It was not all boundaries however; the pair rotated the strike, picking the gaps with singles becoming twos, keeping the scoreboard ticking. 

This caused Ireland skipper Kevin O’Brien to keep changing the field. At drinks, Scotland were 87/1 from 18 overs and the partnership building while the Irish bowlers were too short, wide and straying down the leg side often. 

Gardiner brought up his fifty off 56 balls with a single in the 21st over and was soon followed by MacLeod, who reached his half-century from 77 balls and in the process, bringing up their hundred partnership in the 23rd over.

By now O’Brien was changing his bowlers using the spin of John Anderson and Andrew White, who were extracting some turn and bounce on a pitch that was playing better as the Scotland innings progressed. 

As the partnership built, Ireland’s fielding started became ragged; a couple of lax dives could not prevent two boundaries and after 32 overs, Scotland required 86 and Gardiner and Macleod had soon brought up the 150 stand. 

Sorensen and Young were reintroduced but with a softer ball and no assistance from the pitch for the strike bowlers, Gardiner and MacLeod started to grind their hosts into the dirt. 

When drinks were taken with 16 overs left, Scotland required 62 runs from 96 balls and the match had become a race for the batsmen as to who would reach three figures first. 

It was not to be; Gardiner on 89, got a thin edge to Stuart Poynter behind the stumps from part-timer Andy Balbirnie, falling 11 runs short of a hundred. 

MacLeod did reach his ton from 125 balls with another reverse sweep for four, this time off Balbirnie. 

Mommsen showed some early intent, hitting Balbirnie down the ground for a big six and pulling McCarter for four; showing the attacking zest needed to close out cricket matches. 

There was no late collapse and Scotland eased home with 26 balls to spare when MacLeod smacked the winning runs with a boundary off Young. 

The match was again delayed because of a damp outfield but no overs were lost. Mommsen won the toss and asked his counterpart to bat and was rewarded by some excellent new ball bowling from Alasdair Evans and Sharif, who had Balbirnie, trapped lbw in the ninth over. 

Evans recorded his best ODI bowling figures on Wednesday (2/34) and continued where he left off, bowling full, inducing the batsmen to drive and extracted some bounce on the odd occasion.

The 25-year-old bowled superbly, finishing with one 1/27 from his ten overs, on another day, will bowl worse and get more wickets. 

But it was Majid Haq who caused problems and early on, taking a brace in his opening over. 

With his second delivery he had Stuart Thompson caught behind by Cross and four balls later, Anderson looking to play on the leg side was plum lbw, missing a full straight ball. 

At 50/3 after 18 overs Scotland had an opportunity to squeeze Ireland’s middle order but once again Andrew Poynter and O’Brien steadied the ship, putting together a 45 run partnership before Poynter became Haq’s third victim, out lbw. 

Scotland bowling well, were once again excellent in the field, especially the inner ring fielders who consistently 

Mooney joined his skipper at the crease and the pair proceeded to open up, hitting three boundaries in five balls. 

Another promising partnership was brought to an end at 46 when O’Brien tried one big shot too many and was caught in the deep by substitute fielder George Munsey off Evans. 

Mommsen, with some more inspired decision making, brought Carlton Cricket Club team-mate Evans, back into the attack and was rewarded with the breakthrough and Ireland were 141 for five with 14 overs to go. 

The Scotland skipper continued to alternate his bowlers and again got some reward when Stuart Poynter, trying to flick Josh Davey, was caught down the leg side after getting a thin edge. 

Mooney meanwhile went to his run-a-ball half century with a single off Evans in the 41st over. The highlight of his innings was a reverse sweep six off Haq, which sailed into the crowd. A straight drive four off Davey was textbook and displayed his array of shots on both sides of the wicket. 

Unperturbed by Mooney’s maximum, the Haq kept his cool, dismissing White with the score on 187/7, with his third lbw for six, the score 1 

Ireland brought up the two hundred in the 46th over with back-to-back boundaries from Mooney, off Michael Leask, who was starting to increase the scoring tempo. 

A quick-fire 28 run partnership with Sorensen took the score to 215/8 when Sorensen was caught and bowled by Haq who completed a five-wicket haul and his best ODI bowling figures. 

Mooney’s innings came to an unfortunate end. Backing away, the 32-year-old cut a full delivery from Sharif to backward point on 96 and was caught by Berrington. 

The late damage had been done, Ireland finishing their 50 overs on 241/9, leaving the visitors a par but tricky score to chase, which they would do emphatically.

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