Safyaan Sharif holds nerve to earn Scotland tie with Ireland

Safyaan Sharif bowled a superb final over to keep Scotland's hopes of winning the T20 Tri-Nations trophy alive. File picture: Jane Barlow/PA
Safyaan Sharif bowled a superb final over to keep Scotland's hopes of winning the T20 Tri-Nations trophy alive. File picture: Jane Barlow/PA
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Scotland held their nerve last night as they forced a dramatic tie with Ireland to keep alive their hopes of winning the T20 Tri Nations tournament in the Netherlands.

Kyle Coetzer’s men had been determined to claim revenge for their Deventer defeat to the same rivals the previous day.

And their challenge looked set to be snuffed out by the power hitting of Paul Stirling, who smashed 81.

But Safyaan Sharif bowled a superb last over to make sure of a share of the spoils.

Now Scotland will attempt to earn the silverware by triumphing in their two tournament clashes with the hosts in midweek.

Stirling had made his intentions clear by lofting sixes off Sharif and Chris Sole in the opening two overs of the pursuit of 186.

He went on to strike a further four maximums along with five fours in his 41-delivery stay at the crease.

Hamza Tahir, who had been a target for heavy punishment, eventually removed him, thanks to a great catch by Sharif.

Ireland were left needing 52 from five overs and old stager Kevin O’Brien launched another flurry of boundaries, but the match was back in the balance when Sharif dismissed him at the start of the final over – Dylan Budge taking a stunning catch on the rope.

And the accuracy of Sharif made sure Scotland didn’t go away empty handed.

• READ MORE - Five of Scotland’s most memorable cricket results

Earlier, openers Coetzer, pictured, and George Munsey had made a brisk and confident start after opting to take first knock. The pair rattled up 50 in four overs without seeming in any bother. They maintained the impressive momentum with Munsey whacking his second six over the midwicket rope.

Experienced spinner George Dockrell made the first breakthrough with the first delivery of the ninth over. Munsey sent a thick edge into the hands of gully for 46 from 25 balls to end the entertaining partnership of 93.

In came Calum MacLeod, keen to find the form that brought him the superb unbeaten century that inspired Scotland to ODI glory against England seven days earlier. They reached 106 at the halfway stage of the innings, but the flow of boundaries began to dry up.

Coetzer reached his half century as the bowlers tightened their grip, conceding just 13 in a three-over spell. Coetzer’s patience wore thin and he holed out off Simi Singh on the on-side, having made 54.

The onus was then on MacLeod and Michael Leask to restore the tempo in the final five overs but Leask was run out going for an unlikely second run. MacLeod thumped three fours in quick succession and Matty Cross followed with two more in the 19th, only to perish going for another. MacLeod survived to end on 46 not out from 39 balls.