Poynter snatches dramatic victory with last-ball maximum
Stuart Poynter produced a dream ending to the Oman T20I quadrangular tournament for Ireland yesterday with a mighty last-ball six that snatched a thrilling one-wicket victory over the Netherlands in Muscat.
Andy Balbirnie looked to have a target of 183 well within his sights as he stroked a T20I best for Ireland of 83 from 50 balls, including 12 fours and a six, after adding 86 with Kevin O'Brien, who hit three maximums before falling four runs short of a second successive half-century.
The Dutch kept chipping away, though, until Ireland required seven to win from the final four balls with three wickets in hand. Josh Little was run out attempting a second run and Boyd Rankin holed out first ball going for glory.
Wicketkeeper Poynter (pictured), in line to win his first Test cap next month, wisely refused a single from the penultimate ball, knowing he had a better chance of clearing the ropes than last man Peter Chase, and then left the Dutch devastated with a sensational pull.
Skipper Paul Stirling only managed four with the bat but had already played his part with the ball. Introducing himself into the attack with the Dutchmen flying on 119-1 at the halfway stage, the skipper took 1-13 from three overs and was complemented by Stuart Thompson's 4-18.
The all-rounder's T20I career-best ripped the heart out of the Netherland's batting - he claimed three wickets in his second over - and with Rankin ensuring there was no wag from the tail, an innings that threatened something in excess of 210 petered out on 182-9.
"Thommo was excellent," Stirling said. "He's missed the last two games through a hamstring niggle."
The narrow victory left Ireland behind the Dutch and tournament winners Scotland on net run rate after two wins each, and Stirling is aware a big improvement is needed if his side are to challenge Afghanistan in a three-match T20i series starting in Dehradun, India, later his week.
"It's a one-and-a-half or two times step up from the standard we played here and we're really going to have to lift our game," he said.