Ben Whitley/INPHO Ireland's Paul Stirling.

Young wickets, Stirling runs as Ireland beat the USA in play-off match

Ireland recorded a six-wicket win over USA in their 7th-place play-off semi-final at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

THREE WICKETS FROM returning paceman Craig Young, and a belligerent half-century from opener Paul Stirling, helped Ireland to a six-wicket win over USA in their 7th-place play-off semi-final at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

During what was the first-ever One-Day International (ODI) between the sides, an opening partnership of 84 off 83 balls set the tone for Ireland’s run chase after being set 197 for victory.

Stirling was the main aggressor, with nine fours and two sixes being the dominant scoring shots in his 45-ball 58. He brought up his 28th career ODI 50 in the 11th over, with a reverse sweep for a boundary.

Fortune was a little bit on his side throughout, dropped on seven, and lucky again on 27, he nevertheless backed up his last knock of 162 against the UAE with another assertive innings. Most of his boundaries came through the off side – punching cover drives or flashing cut strokes behind point, but his two sixes were stand-and-deliver pull shots over the legside boundary. Stirling eventually fell on 58 when he was trapped lbw trying to sweep in the 14th over, with Ireland 84-1.

Captain Andrew Balbirnie – playing in his 100th ODI – came in at number three and posted a 39-run partnership with Andy McBrine before the left-hander was caught and bowled by Nosthush Kenjige with Ireland 123-2.

Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker both made 25, before Balbirnie and Curtis Campher guided the side home with over 15 overs to spare. Balbirnie ended on 45* – after his 66 in the last match – has seen the skipper register not only much-needed runs, butt also valuable time in the middle.

Earlier in the day the USA saw Saiteja Mukkamalla and Sushant Modani score half-centuries as they posted 196 all out. Opener Steven Taylor played with plenty of freedom early on, before a seventh over double-wicket maiden from Craig Young – in his first over of the tournament – took care of both Taylor and US captain Monank Patel.

Mukkamalla and Modani then combined for an 88-run partnership before Mukkamalla was unfortunate to get run out in the 23rd over – McBrine getting his index finger to a shot from Modani that clipped the stumps, with Mukkamalla caught out of his crease.

Having been 121-3, Ireland’s bowlers ran through the lower order with Barry McCarthy, Young, McBrine, and Mark Adair all taking wickets, with Young the best of those with 3-35 from his seven overs.

Ireland will now face the winners of Nepal v UAE in the 7th-place play-off final next Tuesday, 4 July.

Ireland v USA, ICC World Cup Qualifier, 7th place playoff semi-final:

USA 196 (42.4 overs; S Mukkamalla 55, S Modani 55; C Young 3-35)

Ireland 197-4 (34.2 overs; P Stirling 58, A Balbirnie 45*; N Kenjige 2-41)

Report courtesy of Cricket Ireland

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