World Cup Qualifier: Ireland edge out Scotland in final ball

Rankin took the wickets of Scottish dangermen George Munsey and Michael Leask
Rankin took the wickets of Scottish dangermen George Munsey and Michael Leask

A superb all-round performance by Boyd Rankin gave Ireland a dramatic win against Scotland in their final warm-up match before the World Cup qualifiers.

The pace bowler took five wickets for 38 as Scotland finished on 239 all out.

The Irish challenge appeared to have faltered on 221-8 in Bulawayo when Rankin was introduced in the 48th over.

The pace bowler struck successive boundaries to reignite the run chase before George Dockrell scored the winning runs off the final ball.

In a nail-biting finish, Rankin levelled the match with a single off the penultimate ball before Dockrell held his nerve to finish the match in style with a boundary.

Both teams will return to action in their opening matches at the World Cup Qualifier tournament on Sunday, 4 March.

Ireland's Group A campaign will begin against the Netherlands in Harare while Scotland return to Bulawayo for their opening Group B game against Afghanistan.

Scotland's openers struggle

Scotland recovered from the early dismissal of opening batsman Matty Cross
Scotland recovered from the early dismissal of opening batsman Matty Cross

Scottish captain Kyle Coetzer chose to bat first after winning the toss but he and opening partner Matthew Cross were quickly back in the clubhouse after a devastating spell of bowling by Tim Murtagh, who finished with 3-42.

Rankin and Barry McCarthy also took wickets as Scotland were struggling on 60-6 before a stubborn seventh wicket partnership between George Munsey and Michael Leask revived their chances.

Leask, who top-scored with 91 runs from 94 balls faced, was eventually caught behind off the bowling of Rankin, who also accounted for Munsey at the beginning of the 47th over.

Tom Sole added a valuable 12 runs off 14 balls as Scotland were bowled out with just three balls remaining.

Balbirnie settles Ireland

Ireland's opening pair also struggled with the new ball as William Porterfield and Paul Stirling combined for just 11 runs.

Andrew Balbirnie anchored the Irish run chase with a battling 79, which featured a 90-run partnership with Niall O'Brien, but his departure in the 39th over left Ireland on 158-6 and still 82 runs short of their target.

It required an unlikely ninth wicket partnership between Rankin and Dockrell, who finished with 47 off 38 balls, to secure a dramatic two-wicket victory.

"It's great to win a game like that, a tight game - there's going to be a number of tight games in the tournament - so to get over the line today is great for the lads," said Dockrell.

"These warm-up games have given us some great time with bat and ball, in quite a few different conditions and on differing pitches.

"That will help with the different conditions we'll meet during the tournament."

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