This match brought a whole new meaning to the phrase 'the luck of the Irish', as the men from the Emerald Isle eventually did just enough to claim their second victory at the ODI World Cup. After defeating the more fancied West Indies' side in their opening fixture, they went into their match with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the favourites for once, not a common experience for their players to encounter. Despite some edgy moments towards the end, their batsmen held their nerves together to clinch a vital two wicket success, as they look to qualify for the later stages of the tournament.
The part-timers from the UAE provided stiff opposition for the Irish during the match, with history being made during their innings as 35-year-old Shaiman Anwar became the first player from his country to score a World Cup century. What an innings it was, in a tournament littered with big individual scores already, as he hit a wonderful 106 from 83 balls to help his nation reach the solid total of 278-9 from their allotted overs. As their confidence grew against the Irish bowling attack in the later stages, so too did the run rate as they plundered 147 runs from the final 15 overs. Prior to that they had struggled to build a decent total, as they stumbled to 131-6, but a batting powerplay provided them with the impetus to up the tempo.
Ireland in reply started poorly, slipping to an ominous 97-4 as a surprise was looking to be on the cards. Kevin O'Brien and Gary Wilson helped to steady the ship and accelerate the scoring though, with a swift 72 from just 36 balls before the sixth wicket fell on a total of 243. O'Brien finished up with a plucky half-century to add to Wilson's splendid 80. Ireland eventually reached their target with just four balls remaining in their innings, scoring 279-8. For O'Brien it was a bit of a mixed day, as he also took two wickets during the UAE innings, but was rather expensive in leaking 61 runs from just seven overs. He also had some luck of his own when dropped by a substitute fielder out in the deep, having scored just 24 at the time.
There was a moment of genuine fortune for the Irish during their time at the crease, when batsman Ed Joyce thought he had been bowled by the UAE's Amjad Javed, only for the bails to not fall off. In such circumstances, Joyce enjoyed a lucky reprieve, but Javed had the last laugh when he later dismissed him for real on 37. Javed enjoyed a fine all-round match, bagging 3-60 with his bowling and hitting 42 with the bat. #CricketIreland will need to show the sort of form that they demonstrated in surprising the Windies in game one, if they are to defeat the much-fancied South Africans in Canberra. However, a victory there on Tuesday would most likely cement their place in the quarter-finals.