A sensational unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 119 off just 60 balls between Curtis Kaempfer and George Dockrell kept Ireland’s hopes of going through the group stages of the World T20 in Australia alive.
t 61 for four, chasing Scotland’s 176 for five, it looked as if Ireland might be plotting an early homecoming, but they not only got through it without further loss, they did so with an over to spare.
Kaempfer has never batted better than his 39-game career, which began with a record 50 against England in 2020. He surpassed his previous best of 68 to finish on 72 not out with seven fours and two sixes, and this time Dockrell, the batsman of the summer, was happy to play second fiddle.
He still scored an unbeaten 39 off 27 balls with four fours and a six, leaving other power hitters Gareth Delaney, Mark Adair and even Barry McCarthy redundant in the shed.
The match-winning partnership, however, masked another top-order failure and some strange bowling choices by skipper Andrew Belbirnie, and it is unlikely that Ireland can do the same against the West Indies in their final group game on Friday.
However, ahead of tonight’s second game between Zimbabwe and West Indies, nothing is decided and indeed a Windies win would leave all four teams with one win in each of their last two games.
Ireland’s early struggles at the top of the innings continued with Paul Stirling, who fell on three balls, lasting just three more balls before being caught behind on the toe of the bat. The on-field umpire didn’t actually give it out, and although the replay of the ultra-edger – after Scotland reviewed the decision – didn’t seem quite conclusive, the TV umpire ruled that he had received the faintest of touches.
By this stage, Belbirnie had already returned to the hut after driving straight to cover and although Lorcan Tucker and Harry Tector doubled the tally for the third wicket, both batsmen were dismissed six balls apart, Tucker hitting one to short fine leg and Tector caught on the mid-wicket boundary.
The rest of the innings was uneventful and impressive, with Kaempfer scoring 50 in just 25 balls, already surpassing his previous T20 best. Indeed, the South African-born batsman failed to score just two of the 32 balls he faced, ending the match with three consecutive fours off Josh Davey.
Ireland’s bowling was a blistering performance, typical of recent performances in the shortest format.
Campher was already in pole position for Ireland’s man of the match at the halfway mark, taking wickets from the first ball of his two overs – but those were his only two overs as Belbirnie stuck to his plans and gave Barry McCarthy his fourth over despite , that his first three got 40. He hit the 18th and Scotland helped themselves to another 20.
Adair took the big wicket of George Munsey with his first ball, trapped in front, and the TV umpire again overturned the on-field decision, this time during Ireland’s review. Importantly, the CIYMS all-rounder also conceded just four runs in the last innings in Scotland.
The spinners bowled six overs but figures of 0-53 proved it was not their day. No matter, the World Cup in Ireland continues for at least two more days.