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Rankin shepherds Ireland to thrilling eight-run victory

Namibia secures space in final despite difficulties in chasing low total

Rankin shepherds Ireland to thrilling eight-run victory - Cricket News
Namibia crumbles chasing low total but place in final is still secure; Irish must beat Kenya next week to join it Ireland kept its hopes of winning a third straight ICC Intercontinental Cup by snatching a barely believable eight-run victory over Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday.

This win means that if Ireland can win outright against Kenya next week while also avoiding a first-innings defeat, it will make it through to the final. In that case, it would again face Namibia in a repeat of this thrilling albeit low-scoring encounter.

It was a strange match which saw all 40 wickets falling inside two days and no batsman from either side managed to make it to 30. A combination of poor shot selection, a swinging ball and bouncy track made sure it was the bowlers who ultimately came out on top.

Having collapsed to 69 all out the first time around, Ireland managed to struggle to 164 on the second time of asking, giving it a lead of 114 and an outside chance of victory. But the Irish attack would still have to bowl well in the face of a strong Namibia batting line-up.

And they did just that. Openers Peter Connell (3-49) and Boyd Rankin (5-39) shared eight of the 10 wickets between them as Namibia crumbled under the pressure. Warwickshire bowler and erstwhile sheep farmer Rankin, in particular, was impressive with his 6ft 7in frame giving him extra bounce and pace.

Gerrie Snyman threatened to see his side home as he hit a quick-fire 28 (14 balls, three fours, two sixes) taking Namibia up to 91-6 chasing 115 for victory. But when Snyman fell, caught by captain William Porterfield off the bowling of Rankin, it signaled the beginning of the end of the Africans.

Former skipper Trent Johnston picked up two crucial wickets towards the end but fittingly it was Rankin who wrapped the match up as he had Kola Burger caught by Kyle McCallan for six, just nine runs short of what would have been its seventh straight win in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08.

The Irishmen must feel the force is with them as they head to Nairobi. They have now stretched their unbeaten run in this competition to 13 matches, a record dating back to 2004. At present, they sit 10 points behind Kenya on the ladder with that final head-to-head being the last match in this year's event bar the final. That means Ireland needs to tie or win the first innings and then follow it up with outright victory to make it through to another decider.

Kenya can get through to its second final in the history of this competition just by taking the first-innings points. The way this competition is shaping up it looks like another thrilling match is on the cards.


ICC Intercontinental Cup

At: Windhoek

IRELAND 69 all out (Louis Klazinga 4-11, Gerrie Snyman 4-22) and 164 all out (Andre Botha 29, Trent Johnston 28, Regan West 27, William Porterfield 25; Kola Burger 5-60)

NAMIBIA 119 all out (Bjorn Kotze 28; Peter Connell 4-24, Boyd Rankin 2-33) and 106 all out (Gerrie Snyman 28; Boyd Rankin 5-39, Peter Connell 3-49, Trent Johnston 2-9)

Ireland (14 points) beat Namibia (six points) by eight runs

Remaining fixture: 11-14 Oct - Kenya v Ireland, Nairobi Gymkhana

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