Irish can't afford to slip-up
The Super Sixes will start a game early for Ireland today when they take on the UAE in Harare in a clash that will not only affect the final Group A placings of the World Cup qualifiers but also the latter stages of the tournament.
After letting the West Indies off the hook on Saturday and suffering a 52-run defeat, their first loss in 13 games, the Boys in Green have no margin for error and must win all four of their remaining matches to be sure of qualifying for the finals.
The UAE looked good in losing to the West Indies by 60 runs and beating the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea. However, Ireland have a 100 per cent record against the UAE in five one-day internationals, and the last of their two 50-over defeats by the Emiratis was way back in 2001. Only a Dutch victory over the West Indies by an enormous margin in the final Group A games can prevent both Ireland and the UAE proceeding to the Super Sixes stage, so a win for either side is almost certain to count in the final reckoning.
Opening bowler Tim Murtagh gave Ireland a good start on his way to figures of 4-41, but after reducing the Caribbean side to 83-5, two dropped chances proved telling. Skipper Jason Holder made 54 and Rovman Powell reached a century as the West Indies posted 257-8. In reply, Ed Joyce made a well-paced 63 from 86 balls as he shared half-century partnerships with each of the O'Brien brothers but his wicket followed by Kevin O'Brien's three balls spelt the beginning of the end.