Thursday, May 30, 2024

Delany shines as Ireland stay unbeaten in WC qualifiers

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An inspired all-round performance from captain Laura Delany ensured Ireland Women closed out Group B of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup qualifier with a perfect record by beating Netherlands on Friday.

With her team struggling on 55-4 halfway through their first innings, Delany struck a third T20I half century – and her highest score in this format – in a 45-ball unbeaten 70, an innings that included eight fours and two sixes.

Her innings took Ireland to a total of 144-4, with Delany then returning figures of 3-6 with the ball to give Ireland a 54-run victory. It served as the perfect preparation ahead of Ireland’s biggest game of the tournament.

Ed Joyce’s team will now play Scotland in the semi-finals on Sunday, with the winner of that match not only advancing to Tuesday’s final but, more importantly, the 2024 ICC Women’s World Cup in Bangladesh later this year.

After Delany called right at the toss and elected to bat first, Ireland’s otherwise faultless openers – who had registered first wicket scores of 52, 130 and 82 prior to Friday’s game – were pegged back at the start with the dismissal of Amy Hunter in the first over.

Gaby Lewis, Hunter’s partner in crime and leading run-scorer in the tournament thus far, flew out the traps but also fell in the powerplay for 10.

That brought Delany to the wicket alongside Orla Prendergast and the pair rebuilt with a partnership of 38 before the latter was well caught on the boundary for 19. When Leah Paul fell six balls later, Ireland was struggling at 55-4 in the 10th over.

Ireland’s skipper, however, propelled her side to a strong first innings total. Delany was superbly supported by Eimear Richardson, who made 34 from 32 deliveries, in an unbeaten 89-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Ireland’s bowlers carried on the momentum with the ball, reducing Netherlands to 30-3 at the end of their six-over powerplay as Prendergast ran riot early on. Prendergast took all three wickets from her first three overs in a devastating opening spell of 3-19.

Arlene Kelly’s first over claimed a fourth Netherlands wicket, leaving the Dutch 61-4 – and still 84 runs short of their target – after 11 overs of the run chase.

Enter Delany, who rattled through Netherlands’ middle-order on route to an emphatic fourth win out of four in Abu Dhabi.

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