A 160-run fourth wicket partnership between Kevin O’Brien and Andrew White set up a comfortable six-wicket victory for Ireland over traditional rival Scotland in the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 at VRA in Amstelveen on Saturday.
O’Brien finished unbeaten on 98 and White was dismissed after a well-played 79 as the defending champion achieved a 233-run target for the loss of four wickets with 31 balls to spare.
O’Brien, who later picked up his third man-of-the-match award of the tournament, and White had come together with Ireland in bother at 51-3. However, the two batsmen played clever cricket by not only nudging and pushing the ball around but also by punishing anything that was loose.
Earlier, Scotland’s openers Fraser Watts (98) and Preston Mommsen (80) had provided Scotland a dream start when the two put on 141 runs for the first wicket in 30.2 overs after being put into bat. It was easily the highest first-wicket stand of the entire tournament, passing the 50 added by Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie for Ireland against Canada.
However, Scotland’s middle-order failed to capitalize on that start and in the face of some intelligent bowling from O’Brien (2-46), Ireland captain Trent Johnston (2-21) and left-arm spinner George Dockrell (2-42), it slipped to 169-7 before a late rally led by Watts and Scotland captain Gordon Drummond (30) lifted it to 232 as they added 51 for the eighth wicket.
In the third-fourth position play-off game in Rotterdam, Afghanistan defeated the Netherlands by five wickets. It was an excellent outcome for the Asian side which had finished sixth in the tournament in South Africa last year, an event it had entered as a Division 2 side.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad scored a 108-ball 82 with eight fours and Asghar Salamkhail belted five fours and three sixes in a 68-ball 64 as Afghanistan achieved a 219-run target with five wickets and 24 balls to spare.
Earlier, Tom Cooper missed out on his second successive century against Afghanistan when he was dismissed for 96 as the Netherlands struggled to 218-5 – thanks to a late 40-ball cameo by Wesley Barresi who clubbed four fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 51.
Cooper, who was later declared man of the match to add to his player of the tournament award, finished with an aggregate of 408 runs that also included scores of 87, 67, 39, 101 and 18. The 23-year-old faced 135 balls and hit seven fours on Saturday and featured in a 78-run third wicket stand with captain Peter Borren (28) and a fifth-wicket partnership of 69 with Barresi.
In the fifth-sixth position play-off in Schiedam, Canada recorded back-to-back victories over Kenya and condemn the African side to a winless tournament. Chasing a modest target of 191, Canada recovered from 81-5 to achieve victory in the last over with three wickets in hand.
Zubin Surkari was Canada’s top-scorer with 49 while captain Ashish Bagai contributed 39 as the two batsmen put on 85 runs for the sixth wicket.