At the change of innings in Almería on Thursday it looked as if Ireland’s hopes of reaching the Under-19 World Cup had all but disappeared: dismissed by Scotland for 139, the Irish appeared to be heading for defeat and very probable elimination from Saturday’s final.
But in an extraordinary turnaround Scotland, who had until this point been bossing the tournament, collapsed to 44 all out in 23.2 overs, and suddenly Ireland had shot to the top of the table and made certain of that slot in the final.
The hero of the day, and unsurprisingly Player of the Match, was Matthew Humphreys, whose run-a-ball 32 had enabled Ireland to get as far as 139 in the first place, and who then took four for 11 in ten overs of left-arm spin to tear Scotland’s batting apart.
Coming in with his side on 92 for six Humphreys soon saw Scott MacBeth depart for 31, but he dominated the latter part of the Irish innings as Oliver Davidson – another left-arm spinner – worked his way through the tail, finishing with five for 23.
Davidson’s might in normal circumstances have been enough to see his side safely into the final, but when Humphreys struck with the fourth ball of Scotland’s reply before a run was on the board and a run-out followed soon afterwards, there were the first hints of what was to follow.
Tomas Mackintosh did his best to keep his side in the game, making 24 of the first 25 runs scored, but once Humphreys trapped him leg-before the Scots’ resistance effectively ended: there were in all six ducks in the innings, and with off-spinner Nathan McGuire taking over where Humphreys left off and claiming three for 7 from 29 deliveries, the collapse was complete.
Ireland will have to wait until Friday’s match between the Netherlands and Jersey to see who their opponents in the final will be.
The Dutch will move level on points with Scotland if they win that game, but which side had the better net run rate would depend on the margin of victory. If Jersey were to beat the Netherlands and post their first win of the tournament then the final would be a rematch between Ireland and Scotland.
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