Cricket: Ireland a step closer to finals as Johnston sees off Scots with early burst
IRELAND will have to beat the UAE and Holland over the next two days to be sure of reaching the Twenty20 World Cup finals after easing into the Super Four of the qualifiers yesterday with a 37-run victory over Scotland in Dubai.
Only the two finalists from the qualifying tournament will progress and Ireland's opening defeat by Afghanistan on Tuesday meant that Phil Simmons' side could afford no more defeats in order to progress.
A total of 136-7 was far from invincible but with Ireland holding a much superior run-rate going into the final Group A match, Scotland would have needed to win in less than 15 overs to progress to the last four themselves.
Any prospect of doing that quickly disappeared in the face of another superb opening burst from Trent Johnston and Peter Connell that reduced the old enemy to a miserable 12-5 after only 20 deliveries.
Johnston said: "We thought that 136 on that wicket was a pretty good score and we came out and bowled well in the first six overs -- as we have been throughout this tournament -- and put them under pressure.
"Only a couple of us were told exactly how many overs Scotland had to win in to go through -- and as a team we were just concentrating on getting another victory and building up some momentum."
After 15 overs Scotland were 87-6 and their innings faded away to 99 all out as Ireland began to look forward to meeting the UAE -- a team they have dominated in recent seasons -- at the same Dubai Sports City ground later today.
Simmons will be concerned that none of his batsman managed to reach 20 and were unable to put the game beyond mediocre opponents as they had done in racking up 202-4 against the USA on Wednesday.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign was a four-ball cameo of 10 not out from Kevin O'Brien -- including one mighty six -- as he found a bit of form while adding 20 in the last two overs with Johnston.
At Sports City, Dubai (Ireland won toss): IRELAND 136-7 (20 overs) (G Wilson 19, A White 19) SCOTLAND 99 all out (18.3 overs) (T Johnston 3-20 G Dockrell 2-9, P Connell 2-17). Ireland won by 37 runs.
FULL SCOREBOARD IN FACTFILE