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Ireland sets sights on a treble

Netherlands, Afghanistan and UAE still in the hunt for automatic qualification

After having won the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship, Ireland will be aiming to become the first country to complete a treble in a calendar year by winning the forthcoming ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 and ICC Intercontinental Cup.

Ireland, which has already qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, is the defending champion for the ICC World Twenty Qualifier 2013 that will be staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 10-30 November, while it has already reached the final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup, an event it has won thrice. The match to decide the winner of the four-day first-class tournament will be played in Dubai in December.

If Ireland wins the forthcoming tournaments, it will achieve the rare distinction of winning three tournaments of three different formats in the same season. Ireland won the ICC Intercontinental Cup, shared the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier title with Netherlands (both in 2008) and the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2009 but, it has never won three ICC tournaments in a season or calendar year.

William Porterfield, who received the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship trophy from ICC’s Global Development Manager Tim Anderson following his side’s seven wickets victory over Scotland on Sunday, said he was looking forward to the coming months and added that his side will be trying its best to maintain its winning sequence.

“Having won the World Cricket League Championship, we are looking forward to the forthcoming tournaments and will try to maintain our winning momentum. Every match that we’ll play in the lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be crucial as they will provide us the confidence and also allow us monitor our progress.

“Every time we take to the field, we like to win and this will not change at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 or the ICC Intercontinental Cup. If we can win the two tournaments and complete a treble, then I’ll be a very happy man because it will be a good reward for all the hard work and effort we have put in as a group,” said Porterfield.

In contrast, Scotland missed out on an opportunity to earn an automatic qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after it lost Friday’s ODI by one-wicket. It failed to pick itself up from that defeat and went down by seven wickets on Sunday. This has left the side searching for its maiden victory on Ireland soil. Scotland had last defeated Ireland by five wickets in Edinburgh in July 2011-thanks to half-centuries by Watts (54), Coetzer (89), Davey 50) and Berrington (56). Scotland now trail 3-9 on head-to-head.

Reflecting on the back-to-back defeats against Ireland, Scotland captain Preston Mommsen said: “We have played some good cricket over the two matches, but unfortunately, although our batsmen have got starts, nobody was able to go on and make the big score that was needed. We have played a lot of good cricket over this tournament, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”

However, Scotland can still qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 through the 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014, which will be staged from 7 January to 2 February in New Zealand, with the top two sides completing the 14-team line-up in ICC’s flagship 50-over event.

Before the New Zealand qualifier, Scotland will appear in the final round of the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup against Ireland (starting on Wednesday), and will require a maximum of 20 points to keep its slim hopes of appearing in December’s final against Ireland alive.

In November, Scotland will be one of 16 teams in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 in the UAE. Scotland finished fifth at the 2012 event, and will be aiming to be one of six teams that advance to the event proper in Bangladesh in 2014.  If it qualifies, this will be the third time that Scotland will play in the ICC World Twenty20, having appeared in South Africa in 2007 and England in 2009.

Looking ahead to the two tournaments, Mommsen said: “We’ve got the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier and the change of format will be good for us. It’s another opportunity to go to a global ICC event, so we will be looking forward to that.

“We need to regroup again, but we still have an opportunity to go to an ICC Cricket World Cup with the qualifying tournament in New Zealand in 2014.”

Scotland’s loss means that the Netherlands, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the only remaining teams still in contention for the second direct qualification spot.

The Netherlands remains second in the competition, three points ahead of Scotland and Afghanistan, and four points ahead of the UAE.  However, with Afghanistan and the UAE yet to play their final round fixtures of the WCL Championship, whether Netherlands can ultimately hang on to second position may not be known until the final match of the tournament.

Should Afghanistan secure a 2-0 victory against Kenya on 2 and 4 October at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, then it will move ahead of Netherlands by one point to snatch the second direct qualification spot.

However, should Afghanistan drop points against the sixth-ranked team and the UAE wins both its matches against Namibia, to be played on 27 and 29 August in Sharjah, the UAE will leapfrog into second position, with the same number of points as Netherlands (18) but ahead on number of wins. 

The upcoming matches between UAE and Namibia, and Afghanistan and Kenya will be streamed live at and on the ICC YouTube channel

Pepsi ICC WCL Championship (remaining seventh round fixtures)

UAE v Namibia (to be streamed live at and on the ICC YouTube channel

27 Sept – 1st 50-over match, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

29 Sept – 2nd 50-over match, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

Afghanistan v Kenya (to be streamed live at and on the ICC YouTube channel
2 Oct – 1st ODI, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

4 Oct – 2nd ODI, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

ICC Intercontinental Cup (remaining seventh round fixtures)
11-14 Sep – Ireland v Scotland, Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland

22-25 Sep – UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

6-9 Oct – Afghanistan v Kenya, GCA 1, ICC Global Cricket Academy, Dubai Sports City 


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