Against a team that had stunned the West Indies in their World Cup opener, Asian Associates United Arab Emirates produced the first thriller of the tournament before Ireland eked out a victory in the last over of the day.
In the Group ‘B’ game, UAE – the bottom seeded team of the tournament – kept impressing with the bat with a scintillating century from Shaiman Anwar piling 278-9 in 50 overs – their second 250 plus score in current World Cup.
Ireland struggled in their chase at 97-4 before half centuries from Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien brought them back in the chase until they had to survive a big scare in the dying moments before reaching 279-8 with four balls to spare.
Skipper William Porterfield and Ed Joyce – who got a brush of his stumps from Amjad Javed delivery but survived after the bails got relocated while he was batting on 16 – made 37 runs each from the top order but Ireland were still at the precarious position losing their first four wickets with the team yet to get into triple figures.
Gary Wilson and Andrew Balbirnie (30) shared 74-run stand for the fifth wicket but Mohammed Naveed removed the latter. Kevin O’Brien stepped in and with asking rate creeping up, he smashed some big shots completing his half century in just 24 balls that brought Ireland right on the track.
Kevin made 50 off 25 hitting eight boundaries and two sixes. Ireland were still on the top with set batsman Wilson looking rock solid but they bounced back when Naveed removed the No 6 batsman for 80 as Ireland score read 267-8 in 47.3 overs.
Wilson’s 69-ball innings included nine boundaries. George Dockrell (seven not out) and Alex Cusack, however, held firm to produced Ireland’s second victory of the World Cup in as many matches. Javed picked up 3-60 for UAE with Naveed and Mohammad Tauqir picking up two wickets each.
Earlier, UAE were never in comfortable position when they were reduced to 131-6 in 34.2 overs. But Anwar – who had made 67 in UAE’s graceful loss against Zimbabwe in their opening match – began from where he had left in the last game smashing all across the park.
Anwar played a fearless game and stroked 10 boundaries and a six on his way to making 106 off 83 balls. He became UAE’s first batsman to notch-up a World Cup century and second to hit an ODI ton. He shared 107 runs for the seventh wicket with Javed, who made 42 off 55 with five fours.
Amjad Ali contributed 45 off 71 with five boundaries and Khurram Khan chipped in 36 off 53. Max Sorensen, Cusack, Paul Stirling and Kevin took two wickets each for Ireland, who are third in the points table behind leaders India and West Indies on net run rate after all three teams are tied on four points each.