Ireland easily brushed aside the challenge of the UAE in Group A of the World Cup qualifiers in Harare, Zimbabwe to book their place in the second round ‘Super Six’ stage of the competition, winning by a huge margin of 226 runs.
Put into bat having lost the toss, Ireland hammered the UAE in a match reduced to 44 overs because of rain, with openers William Porterfield (92) and Paul Stirling (126) creating a new record opening stand of 205 for Ireland.
Kevin O’Brien, elevated up the order to pinch hit at number three, then took up the mantle to blast a not-out 50 off just 26 balls to help his side past the 300 mark as Ireland reached 313 for 6 off their 44 overs.
The UAE, in reply, set a target of 318 on the Duckworth/Lewis method, but were simply were no match against the Irish bowling attack. Boyd Rankin tore through their middle order as the UAE were bowled out for just 91 runs.
On the back of a disappointing loss to the West Indies on Saturday, Irish coach Graham Ford made two changes to his starting 11, bringing in spinner Simi Singh for George Dockrell and pacer bowler Barry McCarthy for Gary Wilson who left the Irish camp temporarily to attend the birth of his child.
Porterfield and Stirling, who had missed out on runs against the West Indies, survived some early scares to hammer the ineffective UAE bowling attack as they raced to an opening stand of 205 by the 35th over before the captain fell on 92 to the bowling of Imran Haider, just eight short of a well deserved century.
Stirling, who was due a decent innings, kept Ireland going racing past his ton making 126 off 117 deliveries caught behind off Mohammad Naveed in the 38th over.
Kevin O’Brien slapped the UAE to all parts of the ground after his elevation to No 3 to set the UAE a target they were never going to meet and the Irish bowlers then did the rest.
From Group A, @westindies, @Irelandcricket and @EmiratesCricket reach the #CWCQ Super Six! 🌴☘️🇦🇪 pic.twitter.com/XDdLxmYWjm
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) March 12, 2018
Ireland face games against Scotland, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan in the second phase of the tournament with their first tie against Scotland this Friday, followed by games against Afghanistan on Sunday, 18 March, and Zimbabwe, on Friday 23 March.
The top two from the ‘Super Six’ will make the final and will move onto the World Cup finals in England in 2019.