PRESTON Mommsen last night sang the praises of Majid Haq and Calum MacLeod after the pair combined to give Scotland a revenge win over Ireland in Malahide.
The Scots were playing for pride in the final match of the series after heavy defeats in the opening two encounters earlier in the week. And they proved there is not such a big gap – if any at all – between the teams with the most comprehensive performance of the week to win by eight wickets.
Haq led the way with his first five-wicket haul in ODIs as Ireland, having been sent in to bat, were restricted to 241 for nine.
MacLeod then showed his class with a superb unbeaten 116, featuring 15 boundaries as Mommsen’s men won with more than four overs to spare.
The Durham man had superb support from Hamish Gardiner whose 89 was his highest score for Scotland and contributed to a match-winning stand of 179. Mommsen said: “We were honest enough to admit that we weren’t up to it with the bat in the first two games so to win this one the way we did means a lot and we’re very happy today.
“Everyone knows that Majid is a stalwart for us and he showed his value to the side with some really big wickets. Calum and Hamish then batted beautifully for us to set up the win.”
After the two previous defeats, this was a day when the breaks went the way of Grant Bradburn’s side. Their best slice of luck was winning the toss – just as Ireland had done in the first two matches – and they took advantage, albeit that Ireland’s 241 for nine was more than Scotland managed on either of the occasions that they batted first.
Visiting supporters may have feared the worst when Matty Cross was caught in the boundary rope in the second over but the Scottish top order had no intention of capitulating for a third time.
Instead MacLeod and Hamish Gardiner compiled a superb partnership of 179 to put their side firmly in charge. Gardiner was originally the more belligerent and, indeed, the Carlton player looked likely to go on and reach three figures. However, he had to be content with his highest score in Scotland colours, having made 89 with ten boundaries when he edged a delivery from part-time spinner Andy Balbirnie to the keeper.
It was left to MacLeod to guide the Scots to their victory, the Durham batsman gaining in confidence the longer his innings progressed.
He finished unbeaten on 116, having moved to his second ODI century with one of his 15 boundaries, a deft reverse sweep off Balbirnie while Mommsen leant support with 31no as the Scots won by eight wickets with 26 balls to spare.
Earlier, Scotland’s bowlers took partial advantage after Mommsen had broken his toss duck and elected to put Ireland in to bat in difficult conditions. While Safy Sharif and, in particular Ali Evans, kept things tight they found the Irish openers in resolute mood.
Sharif did make the breakthrough when he trapped Balbirnie in front in the ninth over but it wasn’t until Haq joined the attack that Scotland claimed the initiative. The Clydesdale spinner struck twice in quick succession to remove Stuart Thompson and John Anderson to put the Irish on the back foot at 50 for three.
However, the hosts again demonstrated their resilience during an impressive re-building phase which featured partnerships of 45 between Kevin O’Brien and Andrew Poynter and one more between O’Brien and John Mooney.
Poynter became Haq’s third victim, trapped in front for 15, and Evans dismissed the dangerous O’Brien for 36 with the help of substitute fielder George Munsey’s catch.
Again, though, the Scots were frustrated especially by the big-hitting Mooney who went on to record his highest ODI score. The all-rounder offered no chances during his 77-ball 96 which featured 12 boundaries and two maximums and he looked set for a deserved century until holing out off Sharif with just two balls of the Irish innings to go.
By then Haq had hoisted his tally to five with the wickets of Andrew White and Max Sorensen. Haq’s haul took him to within one of the all-time Scotland record and offered the batsmen an opportunity to finish the job which they did in style.