SCOTLAND produced an insipid display yesterday as their World Cricket League campaign ended in a seven-wicket defeat to Ireland at Stormont, Belfast.
The Scots had gone into this clash seeking revenge for a heart-breaking last-over reverse on Friday, while also aiming to confirm that they can be a consistent match for an Irish outfit which has dominated the non-Test scene in recent seasons.
Instead, Preston Mommsen’s men appeared to be suffering an emotional hangover, still hurting from the realisation that the possibility of automatic World Cup qualification had been taken away from them 48 hours earlier.
Despite a damp outfield and a dry wicket, Mommsen had sufficient belief in his men to bat first but a total of just 165 suggested that his confidence might have been misplaced. In contrast, Ireland, albeit in easier conditions, raced to their target with 17 overs to spare.
It had started well enough for the visitors when Hamish Gardiner stroked consecutive boundaries off Max Sorensen.
There was to be little sustained hitting from the Scots, though, and they received their first setback when Freddie Coleman was trapped lbw by Sorensen for a single. Gardiner’s early flurry was brought to an end when, having reached 18, he was caught behind off Eddie Richardson.
Scotland needed a big partnership from Matt Machan and skipper Mommsen, who had compiled a fine unbeaten 91 in Friday’s encounter.
However, Machan’s frustrating propensity to ease himself in only to fail to convert struck again when he departed for 23. Niall O’Brien took the catch off his brother Kevin’s bowling.
O’Brien’s medium pace did the most damage to Scotland’s middle order and he found the edge of Mommsen’s bat with Gary Wilson taking the catch.
Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington provide the one meaningful partnership of Scotland’s innings and even that was a moderate 66 runs from a painstaking 123 deliveries.
MacLeod managed to pierce the field for just a solitary boundary in top-scoring with 39 from 81 balls. Berrington, meanwhile, found it just as tough going, facing 59 deliveries for his 35 before becoming O’Brien’s third victim as he tried to apply the accelerator, only to pick out George Dockrell’s safe hands.
David Murphy finished unbeaten on 20 while the rest went for single figures as the Scots were bowled out with three balls of their allocation left.
There were early signs that the Irish would find batting just as problematic, especially when Iain Wardlaw bowled the in-form William Porterfield for five and then had Paul Stirling caught behind to reduce the hosts to 22-2. However, Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien showed all their international experience in a 69-run stand that put their side in the driving seat.
Joyce had stroked six attractive boundaries when he was deceived by Majid Haq and bowled for 39. However, O’Brien was in no mood to let Scotland off the hook and was still there at the end, moving through the gears to finish on 65.
Gary Wilson, the Surrey wicket-keeper/batsman, lent support with a composed 35 which included four boundaries and the only six of the game.
Mommsen acknowledged the flaws which undermined Scotland’s hopes of securing the two wins they needed to retain any hope of automatic World Cup qualification in Belfast.
He said: “We have played some good cricket over the two matches but, unfortunately, nobody was able to go on and make the big score that was needed. Plenty batsmen got starts but you have to take advantage of that. We need to regroup but we still have an opportunity to go to the World Cup with the qualifying tournament in New Zealand.”