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Win takes Ireland closer to main draw

The Report by Abhishek Purohit
March 19, 2014
Ireland took a massive stride towards the second stage of the World T20 with the win over UAE © ICC
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Ireland 103 for 3 (Joyce 43) beat United Arab Emirates 123 for 6 (Anwar 30) by 21 runs (D/L method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Two down, one more to go for Ireland. After taking down a Full Member, Zimbabwe, two days ago, they ensured they didn't take it easy against the weakest side in the group, United Arab Emirates. Asking UAE to bat, Ireland kept them to an extremely manageable 123 for 6.

Netherlands' 140 had proved inadequate earlier in the day against Zimbabwe, and the ball was only going to come on better under lights. Despite the early loss of Paul Stirling to injury, Ireland were well on their way to victory at 103 for 3 in the 15th over when the floodlights went off at the Sylhet Stadium around 10.10pm local time, the electricity cut due to an impending storm.

The lights came back on and play resumed after ten minutes only for the ground to be plunged into darkness two balls later. This time, rain followed the loss of power. The ensuing delay was enough for the match to be called off, leaving Ireland winners by 21 runs by the Duckworth-Lewis method, although the lights started to regain life again another ten minutes later, only to witness a proper downpour this time.

Stirling could not perform his role with the bat but he had already played a crucial one with the ball, when he snapped up two wickets in the seventh over to leave UAE at 46 for 3. Those strikes squeezed out whatever momentum UAE had built up with some free-spirited strokeplay at the start. Amjad Ali and Faizan Asif, the UAE openers, did not display the best understanding while running between the wickets but, before frequent confusion culminated in the latter's run-out, the pair had put on 35 within five overs.

Stirling earned Ireland further inroads after that gifted break from UAE. In a spell of 3-1-12-2, he had Amjad cutting to short third man in the seventh over, while Swapnil Patil stepped out and popped one straight to short midwicket three balls later.

Just like their opening match against Netherlands, UAE were forced to rebuild but they weren't able to regain any impetus against the Ireland medium-pacers, led by Kevin O'Brien, who returned figures of 4-0-17-2. Shaiman Anwar did club a couple of sixes in his 30 off 28 but UAE also played out as many as 48 dot balls, piling more pressure on themselves.

That resulted in two more quick wickets, setting them back even further. Shaiman mis-hit a pull back to O'Brien off the last ball of the 14th over to make it 88 for 4. Three balls later, that became 90 for 5 as Khurram top-edged a slog, the skier coming down in cover's hands.

Ireland tightened the screws further towards the end, as UAE were able to score only three boundaries off the last five overs - despite losing only wicket in that period - against a mix of full deliveries and slower ones.

Stirling suffered a blow to the elbow off the second ball of the chase after he was too early on an attempted pull. He did punch a couple of boundaries in the same over but was in too much discomfort despite taking treatment, and had to leave the field early in the second over.

Ed Joyce and William Porterfield extended Ireland's dominance with an 80-run stand that came in 68 deliveries. With an eye on their net run-rate, Ireland lost a few quick wickets in trying to finish the game early. There was to be an early finish, but Ireland could not claim to have wrought it.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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