Scotland come up short as Ireland grab last-ball win

Michael Leask hit 91 for Scotland. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Michael Leask hit 91 for Scotland. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Scotland suffered last-ball misery yesterday as they went down by two wickets to Ireland in their final warm-up match for the World Cup Qualifier in Bulawayo.

In a topsy-turvy encounter, the Scots had fought back from a poor start and went into the final three overs as favourites with the Irish needing 32 runs.

However, George Dockrell and Boyd Rankin held their nerve while the Scottish death bowlers failed to maintain their discipline. Rankin helped himself to consecutive boundaries in the penultimate over from Ali Evans and that left Ireland needing eight runs from the final over bowled by Stu 
Whittingham.

Dockrell struck the winning shot from the final ball of the match to finish unbeaten on 47.

Defending 239, Scotland’s bowlers made a promising start when they removed both Irish openers for single figures. Whittingham accounted for Paul Stirling, while Brad Wheal found the edge of Will Porterfield’s bat. It got even better for the Scots when Tom Sole struck with his first delivery to have Ed Joyce stumped by Matthew Cross.

However, a partnership of 90 between Andy Balbirnie and Niall O’Brien helped Ireland reclaim the initiative.

Balbirnie top-scored with 79 before falling to Evans, while Sole claimed his second wicket to remove O’Brien for 35 as the Scots refused to throw in the towel.

However, in the end they lacked the killer instinct in the final overs, Ireland clinching their eighth win in the last nine 50-over clashes between the sides.

Earlier, a battling partnership between George Munsey and Michael Leask helped Scotland recover from a disastrous start to post 239.

They were staring at humiliation when they slumped to 15 for three with Tuesday’s centurion Cross, skipper Kyle Coetzer and Richie Berrington all gone. Calum MacLeod attempted repairs with 29 but, when he departed – one of Rankin’s five victims – to be quickly followed by Craig Wallace and Safyaan Sharif, the Scots were reeling on 60 for six.

However, Munsey and Leask demonstrated the depth of the batting line-up with a face-saving stand of 156. Leask, pictured, led the way with a hard-hitting counter-attack that brought him 91 runs at a run a ball with seven boundaries and two maximums. Munsey also cleared the ropes twice in his 77 as Scotland gave themselves a chance.

Scotland skipper Coetzer said: “We got ourselves into winning situations on a couple of occasions but it’s tough to take when you lose off the last ball. George and Michael batted superbly to give us a chance.”

The Scots launch their World Cup qualifying bid against Afghanistan on Sunday.