For the first time in a long time Ireland and Scotland face off against each other without any qualifying points or table position or playoffs for world cup places. This may lead you to think that the pressure is off or the intensity lessened and that a little relaxing game of cricket would play out today under the bright skies and warm sunshine and that everyone would have a jolly good time.
The extra frisson of excitement with these games comes with the knowledge that there are still a few World Cup places on the line for players hoping to make it onto that plane. A good performance during this series could see them seal their ticket for that journey of a lifetime.
Craig Young did his best to book his seat on that plane by taking five wickets for 46. The 8th best on debut in O.D.I and only the 2nd associate nation player to take five in a O.D.I. match (behind Codrington of Canada)
After Ireland won the toss and chose to field they looked unusually scrappy at the start of the innings and watched Scotland set a good pace to be 51/1 after 10 overs.
A change of ends for Young saw the first of his wickets come immediately. MacLeod caught at slip for 25.
Gardner followed soon after, bowled through the gate for 10, before Young claimed the Scottish captain, Mommsen, for his third victim. After 15 overs Scotland were stalling and Ireland were applying the squeeze. The pressure drew some soft dismissals as the Scots struggled to rebuild. By the 26th over Scotland were 105/7, their innings in tatters.
It was left to the normally big hitting Leask to restrain himself and make sure his bowlers had something to work with. Along with Sharif he puts together the best partnership of the Scottish innings, a 57 ball fifty.
Young is brought back into the attack to break up the promising partnership and succeeds almost immediately by removing Sharif caught behind of a thin under edge for 18.
pushed on and brought up a chanceless 50 at a run a ball before the man of the moment deceives him with a slower ball bouncer that deflects off his gloves onto his chest before ballooning through to the keeper.
and Wardlaw fail to add any runs between them and Scotland were all out for 172 with 8.3 overs remaining unused.
Ireland have bungled Scotland out so quickly and efficiently that Ireland must bat for 20 minutes before lunch can be taken.
With no pressure on their openers, Anderson and Balbirnie, take things slow and play for lunch. Anderson falls to L.B.W. to Wardlaw before the lunch can be taken and Ireland walk off for a sandwich and frozen oranges with the score on 28/1 after 8 overs.
After lunch Mommsen juggled his bowlers with success coming via Davey claiming Andrew Poynter caught behind for 16 in the 15th over. Kevin O’Brien settles in to close out the innings with a minimum of fuss and gathers a quality half century along the way finishing not out with a run a ball 56, passing 2000 O.D.I runs along the way and another impressive Irish victory.
The clouds gathered as the game drew to a close but the only Scotland felt the sudden chill. The Irish fans and players were too busy having a jolly good time in the sunshine.
The second game of the series takes place on Wednesday.
You can see the published version on CricketEurope ... HERE.