In their last Group B game, against the Yellow Greens of Nigeria, Ireland needed a win to secure their playoff spot, and a net run rate boost to give themselves the best chance to sneak up on table-toppers Oman, in case Zeeshan Maqzood’s side were to drop their last match against Jersey.
If Oman loses against the Channel Islanders, and a complete blowout between UAE & Canada notwithstanding, it will be Ireland – like they did in 2015 – who will win the group and accept an automatic ticket to the ‘big dance’.
And this they did when they chased down Nigeria’s 66/9 in quick time. Paul Stirling went early for 11, then Kevin O’Brien’s brisk 32 came to an end when he was clean bowled to the off-spin of Daniel Ajekun. Promoted to number four, Mark Adair collected 10 from his first four balls before three leg byes from the first ball of the seventh over secured victory for Ireland, and a NRR advantage over Oman, meaning that the Sultanate needs to beat Jersey in their final match to capture top spot.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, things didn’t start well for the West Africans, and it only got worse. A slightly quicker ball from Gareth Delaney slid past Daniel Ajeku’s attempted cut in the second over, and wickets continued to fall at regular intervals.
Coming off 46 not out during the side’s loss to UAE yesterday, Chimezie Onwuzulike was again hit on the helmet (still with his backwards hat underneath) before he fell in the 11th over for 6. His was the fifth wicket to fall, and the scoreboard read 34.
The Ajeku dismissal earlier on was one of five Nigerians who were bowled; the remaining four were all taken by Ireland’s quick men. Beyond that, a needless run out (well, aren’t they all) and three easy catches were taken; to a top-edged sweep, a bat-hang caught behind, and a mistimed swipe lobbing an easy catch to George Dockrell left the Irish with a mere 67 for the win, the lowest target of this Global Qualifier, just under Nigeria’s 71 against Oman three days ago. That being said, Nigeria were not bowled out against Ireland.
Craig Young finished with the best figures, taking four wickets including Onwuzulike’s. Mark Adair took two. As the only team no playing tomorrow, Ireland can only sit back and hope results now go their way.