Voorburg: Kevin O’Brien became the second Ireland batsman to complete 1,000 ODI runs as the defending champion survived a scare from Scotland in a low-scoring encounter to maintain its unbeaten run.
Chasing a modest 118-run target at VOC ground in Voorburg, Ireland achieved victory for the loss of five wickets in 34.2 overs after slipping from 56-2 to 65-5 in 20 overs.
O’Brien, later declared man of the match, finished unbeaten on a priceless 41. When he reached 13, after staying on 12 for 16 deliveries, he completed 1,000 runs in his 40th appearance to become the second Ireland batsman after William Porterfield to reach the milestone.
A delighted O’Brien later said: "It is obviously an achievement. They’re all hard-fought runs against some very good teams around the world. It is a good one to know and hopefully I can just build on it for the future for the next couple of years, including the ICC Cricket World Cup next year in the subcontinent."
On a difficult batting surface against some disciplined bowling and on a beautiful day weather-wise, Scotland’s batsmen found themselves all at sea for much of their innings on a pitch that offered assistance to the bowlers.
While battling to hang in there and survive its full quota of overs, it failed to take its batting powerplay until it was mandatory to do so, in the 46th over, by which time Scotland had already slipped to 118-8 before being dismissed six runs later with 16 deliveries going unused.
Neil McCallum showed a lot of courage and patience to top score with a sedate 49 that came off 94 deliveries. Out of Scotland’s eight fours, the 32-year-old hit six and each boundary was a treat to watch. The other batsman to reach double figures was Dougie Lockhart who scored 19 off 68 balls.
Ireland’s bowlers made optimum use of the favourable conditions and returned with impressive figures. Trent Johnston recorded figures of 10-3-18-2 and Nigel Jones had figures of 10-3-19-2. O’Brien, Alex Cusack and John Mooney picked up a wicket each while Scotland opener Preston Mommsen (4) was run-out due to some athletic fielding by Jones.
In turn, Ireland started confidently with Paul Stirling hitting a couple of exquisite shots before Matthew Parker’s double strike off successive deliveries pegged back the batting side. Stirling and O’Brien carried the score from 12-2 to 56-2 before Stirling’s dismissal led to two more quick wickets as Ireland slipped to 65-5.
However, those turned out to be Scotland’s last successes as O’Brien took control of proceedings and slowly but confidently steered Ireland to success which has put it on top of the table with three successive victories.
O’Brien’s 41 came off 84 balls and included five fours and a six. Together with John Mooney (20 not out), O’Brien added 55 runs in 85 deliveries. Stirling’s 37 included seven punishing boundaries off 43 deliveries.
For Scotland, Drummond and Parker picked up two wickets apiece conceding 23 and 42 runs respectively.
Drummond was disappointed with the result. He said: "We knew it was a difficult wicket to bat on. I think 150 or 160 would have been an interesting chase as there would have been more pressure on the batsmen to score quicker.
We got five wickets but once the ball got softer, batting became much easier. Also, the bowlers didn’t bowl consistently and missed the right areas otherwise we might have taken 10 wickets.
"It’s a reality check for us and I don’t think we have played as well as we can. I think the best is yet to come from us and hopefully we’ll be able to put together for the next game against Kenya."