CWC Qualifier: A campaign laid to rest for Ireland?

The Irish Men's side have a lot to think about and now potentially the time to do it.

Ireland

Should we list them all? Throughout the ODI Super League, Ireland have struggled to get over the line from tight positions.

And so it came to pass again in their second qualifying game. They did their best to get their ODI World Cup qualification hopes back on track but it wasn’t to be against Scotland.

Things weren’t going their way after losing both Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie to Brandon McMullen who finished with 5/34 despite curiously not bowling his full ten overs.

However Curtis Campher and George Dockrell came together like they did against Scotland in Hobart at the T20 World Cup last year. Back then Irish hopes were again on the line. History seemed to be repeating itself.

Adding 136 for the sixth wicket, the two batters do what they always do: compliment. Dockrell, the taller of two loves to hit straight while Campher hustles the ball squarer of the wicket. It very quickly creates problems for the opposition captain.

With backs truly against the wall, Ireland had remarkably set Scotland 287 to win at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Everything was almost remarkably falling into place.

Well maybe until Mark Watt joined Michael Leask at 152/7 to put on 82 off 67 for the eight wicket during the Scottish chase. Chris Greaves had assisted just before with 20 from 25 to wrestle back some momentum.

Still throughout the Watt/Leask partnership, Ireland would have felt somewhat assured of victory by a smaller margin due to the run rate required. The key moment then ended up being the 47th over where Josh Little was hit for 22.

Pressure can tell even for the Gujarat Titan, and this Qualifier are an extremely high pressure environment for all the teams involved.

It can even tell for players who are the ICC’s Men’s Player of the Month in the case of Harry Tector who missed a routine pick up fielding at long on to give away four runs in the final over.

In the case of Scotland, not bowling Brandon McMullen for his full quota was surely also a sign of pressure.

Maybe in some ways these scores now become irrelevant. Just details when the bigger issue remains starkly in view. Ireland missed out on key Super League points against New Zealand and the Netherlands in particular which could have guaranteed automatic qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup.

Ireland still have a chance, but that chance is very slim and currently shedding a final few pounds for the ultimate beach bod.

They need to beat Sri Lanka and the UAE by handsome margins for net run rate and hope quite a bit else goes their way. Maybe even throw in some inclement weather for good measure?

Only slight mathematical hope. Then they’d have to find form in the Super Sixes when the pressure will really mount.

Who knows what will happen. But the Irish management and playing group will have extra time to consider perhaps why they shouldn’t have been in Zimbabwe in the first place, and could have been booking their flights to India.

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