Murtagh holds nerve to get Irish out of jail
TIM MURTAGH was an unlikely hero with the bat at Stormont as Ireland scrambled to a one-wicket victory with a ball to spare to end Scotland's hopes of automatic qualification for the 2015 World Cup.
An inexplicable Irish collapse from 95-0 to 146-7 pursuing a target of 224 had put the visitors firmly in the driving seat in the ICC World Cricket League ODI, but William Porterfield's side never know when they are beaten.
First Trent Johnston and Max Sorensen got the chase back on track with an eighth-wicket partnership of 34, then Murtagh and Sorensen chipped away with a stand of 29.
With 28 needed from the last three overs, then 17 from two, Ireland were still second favourites and looked long odds against when Sorensen was stumped for 31 in the penultimate over.
The last-wicket pair pushed and nudged singles until, with nine required from three balls, Murtagh launched a straight six followed by a square-driven four to the delight and amazement of his team-mates and the Belfast crowd.
"It was all under control, we had a ball to spare," the Middlesex bowler joked. "It was nice to be out there at the end and get over the line in such a tight game."
The loss was cruel on Scotland, who have been dominated by Ireland for most of the last decade, and they must now hope to claim one of the last two World Cup places in a qualifying tournament in January.
Captain Preston Mommsen had struck 91 not out, but Scotland's total of 223-9 looked inadequate after George Dockrell (4-24) and Sorensen (2-37) both recorded their best figures in ODIs.
Ireland were heading for yet another routine victory over the visitors as Porterfield and Paul Stirling raced to 95 in only 17 overs, but when the openers departed in quick succession, six batsmen fell for only 36, followed soon after by North County all-rounder Eddie Richardson for 12 on his ODI debut.