Scotland win thriller

A brilliant ton by Neil McCallum took Scotland to victory against Ireland in the third match of the ICC World Cricket League.

Ireland captain and key all-rounder Trent Johnston called correctly at the Nairobi Gymkhana Ground and elected to bat first.

The Ireland batsmen were off to a slow start when opener William Porterfield was dismissed by Paul Hoffmann for a cautious 11. However, this was the last tase of success for Scotland for a while as Jeremy Bray and Eoin Morgan gradually consolidated and put on an important partnership of 71.

Unfortunately for Ireland, Morgan – who had made a brilliant 99 on One Day International debut against the same opponents in 2006, fell for a quick innings of 41. With his dismissal, the Ireland innings languished as batsmen repeatedly got themselves in and got themselves out.

It was left to Bray to steer the Irish to a competitive total, and he did so as he brought up 50 and then an excellent 100. However, he had some help in the latter stages of the innings from his captain who came in during the death overs and smashed the ball to all parts to make an unbeaten 45 off only 19 deliveries. Johnston and Bray had combined for 65 runs in only six overs to take the Irish total from a merely good total to an excellent 280-7.

The pick of the Scotland bowlers was Paul Hoffmann who finished with 3-44 off his 10. Scotland opener Majid Haq also bowled well to take three wickets, but the rest of the bowlers made little impact.

The Scottish reply didn’t start well as Fraser Watts was dismissed in the fifth over of the innings. Majid Haq and Ryan Watson briefly threatened to take the game to Ireland but Watson soon perished going for another big shot to leave Scotland 60-2. The next man in, Gavin Hamilton and Haq put together a partnership but as soon as they looked to be getting on top of the bowling Hamilton was caught by Morgan for 11.

Haq was soon able to bring up an excellent fifty but was another batsmen dismissed going for the big shots. He made 51, but Scotland needed a big innings from him to win the match. With the wicket of Haq came another two as first Dougie Brown was caught brilliantly for four and then Hoffmann was run out to leave Ireland on the brink at 144-6 in the 36th over.

However, Neil McCallum provided new hope for Scotland, and with Colin Smith providing an able partner, he sent shudders through the Irish dressing room. Smith was injured and had to bat with a runner, but this did not hinder his strokeplay.

McCallum batted beautifully, playing all the bowlers well as the asking rate climbed above 10 runs per over. He didn’t panic and eventually reduced the equation to just about eight runs per over. Along the way McCallum brought up a deserved maiden ODI ton. Smith and McCallum continued to slowly but surely bring the runs equation down until McCallum was dismissed in the penultimate over for a scintillating 102 off only 92 balls.

Come the last over, Scotland needed 15 to notch up a memorable win with Smith still at the crease. The new man in the middle, captain Craig Wright gave the strike to Smith with 13 needed off five deliveries. The second ball of the over was smashed for six by Smith to leave Scotland needing eight off four. Another six from Wright this time brought the scores level with one ball remaining.

A boundary off the final ball brought up a brilliant victory for Scotland. After they had looked down and out three quarters of the way through their innings, the result was all the more significant. Smith finished unbeaten on 49, his highest ODI score but the victory was undoubtedly set up by McCallum and his amazing 102.

Ireland 280-7
Jeremy Bray 116, Trent Johnston 45*, Eoin Morgan 41
Paul Hoffmann 3-44, Majid Haq 3-53

Scotland 284-7
Neil McCallum 102, Colin Smith 51*, Majid Haq 51
Andre Botha 3-46, Kyle McCallan 2-41

Scotland won by 3 wickets.

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