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Back to winning ways! Ireland end miserable run with nail-biting victory

John Bracewell’s side did just enough to squeeze past Namibia.

Jacob Mulder celebrates one of his two wickets.
Jacob Mulder celebrates one of his two wickets.
Image: CricketIreland.ie

IRELAND’S HOPES OF progressing through to the semi-finals of the Desert T20 tournament remain alive after a nail-biting five-wicket victory over Namibia this morning.

John Bracewell’s side made hard work of it in Abu Dhabi but eventually showed enough character at the death to get over the line and end a six-game winless streak in the shortest-format.

Gary Wilson steered Ireland to victory with two balls remaining with an unbeaten 38 while Stuart Poynter — a late call-up to the squad — provided the platform for Ireland’s successful chase.

It was far from pretty, or convincing, but the result will come as a great relief for the players and management after a wretched run of form in Twenty20 cricket, which stretches back to this time last year.

Since a 34-run win over UAE in February 2016, Ireland had suffered consecutive defeats to UAE, Zimbabwe, Oman, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Afghanistan as they floundered in this form of the game.

Such has been the decline in form over the last 12 months, Bracewell’s side have slipped to 17th place in the ICC’s Twenty20 World rankings.

So this was a much needed confidence booster, albeit against a side Ireland should be accounting for with minimal fuss.

As it was, it required an impressive cameo with the bat from Wilson to ensure Ireland’s interest in this Associate tournament didn’t end after just two games.

Chasing 147 to win at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Ireland needed eight from the final over with Andy McBrine holding his nerve to strike two boundaries.

Poynter also impressed with 38 but once again Ireland failed to register a six in the innings and against superior opposition, they would have paid the price.

Nevertheless, Bracewell can be encouraged by the way his side managed to work their way back into the contest after Namibia’s early onslaught with the bat.

Louis van der Westhuizen and Stephan Baard gave the African side a blistering start and it looked like they would post a total in the region of 180 before the Irish attack responded in kind by taking eight wickets in the second half of the innings.

Teenager Josh Little, who is still in school in St Andrew’s College, Kevin O’Brien, Craig Young and Jacob Mulder all picked up two wickets.

For the first time in quite a while, the batsman were able to back it up.

A win is a win, and Ireland now face a winners-take-all clash with UAE tomorrow for a place in the last four.

Namibia 146-6 (20 overs; L van der Westhuizen 50, S Baard 32, G Snyman 22, J Little 2-17, K O’Brien 2-21, J Mulder 2-27, C Young 2-29)

Ireland 149-5 (19.4 overs; S Poynter 38, G Wilson 38*, K O’Brien 22)

Ireland won by five wickets

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Ryan Bailey

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