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World Cup Qualifier 2023

Scotland win all-time ODI thriller to leave Ireland’s World Cup hopes in tatters

by Ben Gardner 3 minute read

Scotland overcame Ireland in an ODI thriller to rank among the most exciting ever played to leave the latter’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup hanging by a thread.

Already beaten by Oman, Ireland were left with little room for error in the remainder of their first round clashes. Three teams from each group progress to the Super Sixes stage, and with Sri Lanka expected to dominate Ireland’s group, more than a single slip-up against the other three teams could be fatal.

Ireland looked dead and buried early on, collapsing to 33-4 as opening bowler Brandon McMullen cut a swathe through the top order. All-rounder Curtis Campher led a rebuild, with George Dockrell (69) giving strong support. Campher reached his century in the 48th over and cut loose in the 50th, smashing Chris Sole for 14 runs in three balls as Ireland surged close to 300.


It looked like it would be plenty as Scotland struggled in the chase. While they didn’t suffer a slide as dramatic as Ireland’s, regular wickets dented their progress, and at 122-6 they looked out of contention.

But that was when Chris Greaves joined Michael Leask, and together they began a rebuild. And while Greaves fell for 20 with the score on 150, the following stand, between Mark Watt and Leask, properly changed the game.

The eighth-wicket pair added 82 and kept Scotland in contention. But with Watt stumped with five overs to go and 53 still needed, that looked to be that.

It was at this point that Leask took charge. He had made his to 44 at better than a run a ball, but had been happy to cede the strike up to that point. From then on, it was all about him.

A boundary brought up fifty on the last ball of the 46th over. Then in the 47th he took down Josh Little, smashing two sixes and two fours in four balls. A boundary to start the 48th over then took the required run rate down to just above a run a ball.

The next nine balls passed without a boundary, and the pressure increased again. Leask then hit two fours in three balls, before Safyaan Sharif fell with three needed from four, bringing in No.11 Chris Sole on strike.

He missed his first ball and his second, but Scotland ran a bye anyway. With two needed off one, an inside-edge from Leask somehow found the boundary. He ended up unbeaten on 91 off 61 balls, and deservedly claimed the Player of the Match award.

Scotland missed out on World Cup qualification in 2018 in heart-breaking circumstances, with an umpiring error seeing them fall behind on DRS just before the rain fell against West Indies, when victory would have seen them progress. This time, fate. might be on their side.

“This is just the start of our journey,” said Leask. “This is how we’ll play our cricket, we’ll take things deep.”

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