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26 February 201504:57

Outstanding Associates

After 12 days of World Cup cricket that produced incredible highlights but was short on close finishes, the biggest thriller of #cwc15 to date came courtesy of Ireland and the United Arab Emirates last night.

Outstanding Associates - Cricket News

Ireland has gone two-from-two at #cwc15

Just one day earlier, Ireland skipper William Porterfield and UAE vice-captain Khurram Khan had spoken strongly about the worth of their Associate teams and they certainly proved it on the field, producing a nail biter at the Gabba that went down to the final over.

Once again, Ireland had the goods when it came to executing a big run chase and creating excitement. Incredibly, Ireland now has four of the top 10 World Cup run chases of all-time.

Yeah, two associate nations going head to head, it’s great. We put on a good show, and obviously thank the Irish fans, there’s 5,000, 6,000 in there tonight, and we heard the voices there.

William Porterfield
It is an outstanding record from a team only making its third appearance at the tournament. Its greatest chase, the famous 2011 win over England, saw it run down 329, while it has twice chased 307: first against the Netherlands in 2011 and then again against West Indies last week. Last night’s achievement, 279, comes in at No. 10.

It was a classic topsy-turvy match that had no shortage of special moments. It started with Ed Joyce’s non-dismissal in the 11th over.

A ripping ball from Amjad Javed just clipped into his off-stump, causing the bail to bobble – before landing perfectly back in its original position. The match would have been memorable enough for that incredibly rare occurrence alone, but this classic was about more than just quirks of the sport.

Gary Wilson’s match-winning innings was calm and controlled as he steered Ireland from a perilous position at 97-4 to 267-8 when he was dismissed, leaving his team needing just 12 to win. When Ireland’s back was to the wall, needing 102 runs from 68 balls, it was Kevin O’Brien who strode to the crease and smashed a 24-ball fifty to transform the match.

Many higher-ranked batsmen from higher-ranked teams have collapsed facing similar situations in run chases through this tournament so far.

It was fitting that O’Brien, the hero of Ireland’s 2011 triumph over England, produced the big-hitting goods again. It was enough to prompt a journalist at the most-match press conference to ask, “What's it about Kevin O'Brien and World Cups?” Porterfield answered by saying O’Brien was no “one-trick” World Cup player. “We play every four years on the big games and such, and if we played a few more in between you'd see it a bit more often. We see it every day in training,” he said.

By the time Ireland was closing in on the winning runs, the hashtag #IREvUAE was trending worldwide on Twitter.

The win keeps its hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals alive and while Ireland was again a source of World Cup thrills, carrying on after its dominant win over West Indies last week, the performance of the United Arab Emirates needs to be given the credit it deserves.

For a second consecutive match, the tournament’s only team of amateur players was in a winning position and this group deserves to have at least one tick in the “wins” column.

The batting of Shaiman Anwar was some of the best seen this tournament. Twice now he has steered his team to big scores, having scored 67 from 50 balls against Zimbabwe before his knock of 106 off 83 last night.

UAE’s classy cricket so far is a tribute to the hard hours of training it has put into its World Cup preparations.

The Brisbane match continued what has been a strong tournament so far for the Associates – in addition to Ireland’s victory in Nelson and the UAE’s strong showing against Zimbabwe, Afghanistan almost brought Sri Lanka undone and Scotland has fought hard against New Zealand and England.

Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre, watch all the video clips from the game, review the scorecard and all of the match coverage.