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2010 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup
Paul Stirling’s Ton Deflates USA

By John L. Aaron

Jan. 19th, 2010 | Gallery
The USA today took on Ireland in what was billed as a return fight, following the match up of the two teams in the Qualifying Tournament in Toronto, Canada last September, and leading up to this ICC Under-19 World Cup tournament. In the previous encounter Ireland lost by 42 runs to the upstart USA lads, who dared to defeat the qualifying tournament’s favored team. In fact, Ireland went on to emerge as the tournament’s top team, with the USA being the only team to have defeated them.

Paul Stirling (top) of Ireland hit the only ton of the tournament so far. Saqid Saleem was in good form stroking an elegant 62. (Photos courtesy of Daniela Zaharia )

Steven Taylor registered his second half century of the tour, scoring 57 from 64 deliveries. (Photo courtesy Daniela Zaharia)

In the Toronto encounter the USA’s Ryan Corns was adjudged the tournament’s overall MVP, scoring 86 in the USA’s win over Ireland. The question being asked prior to today’s match was whether Corns could repeat his performance against the Irish, or whether the luck of the Irish would be against him.

The USA won the toss and elected to take first strike, opening with the young hard-hitting left-hander Steven Taylor and the in-form Azurdeen Mohammed, and against the Irish medium pacers Jordan Coghlan and Craig Young.

Taylor was off to a fine start scoring 57 off of 64 deliveries and including 6x4s and 3x6s in his 89.06 strike rate. Taylor’s 50 was posted in 68 minutes. However, Andy Mohammed at the other end had departed after posting two runs off 14 balls, with the score on 20, fourteen overs later Taylor was fooled by a flighted delivery and bowled by the Irish skipper Andrew Balbirnie.

Gregory Sewdial who had a steadfast 41 against South Africa two days ago sought to establish a solid footing at the crease, but only managed 30 this time, including 4x4s and 1x6 facing 46 balls. The surprising middle-order contribution this time came from the right-handed Saqib Saleem who stood his ground and posted a solid 62 off 77 balls with 6x4s to his credit. He was afforded a chance when on 27.

At drinks the USA’s 150 had come up in 118 minutes off 203 deliveries and saw a partnership of 50 between Corns and Saleem, with both looking to set a big partnership. However, Ryan Corns from whom a lot was expected going in to this World Cup was disappointingly run-out after scoring 31 off 52 balls with a solitary boundary.

The USA was 169/4 in 37.3 overs at the point. Skipper Shiva Vashishat, who has had a devastatingly poor tour so far, with most of his runs being single digits, was caught off the bowling of Craig Young for six, having faced nine deliveries. His departure was rather inopportune, as the USA was looking to build significant partnerships in the middle.

The USA tail-enders who have been rather supportive in the preceding two matches failed to show up in this one, as numbers 6 thru 11 could only rack up 20 runs, including skipper Vashishat’s six runs. The USA’s 217 all out was posted in 48.1 overs.

The USA wickets fell at 20, 98, 100,169, 181, 200, 212, 213, 217, and 217. The principal wicket-takers for Ireland were Lee Nelson with amazing figures of 1.1-0-3-3 and Craig Young 9-1-50-3.

Ireland in reply opened with skipper Andrew Balbirnie, who lasted 28 deliveries while scoring three runs. He appeared anxious to have a go at the USA, but was trapped lbw by Salman Ahmad with the score on 23 at 7.1 overs. The Irish then decided to pace themselves as they sought revenge for the loss in Canada, and for the longest while were well under a run rate of 4.00 per over in response to the USA’s posted 4.5 per over.

The ace in the Irish opening four-leaf clover was the sterling batting performance of Paul Stirling with a determined and comprehensive 114 posted off of 102 balls and including 12x4s and one six. At 97, it was a huge six off of Naseer Jamali that brought up the prolific right-handed batsman’s century and really took the wind out of the sails of the Team USA. Stirling appeared to be doing nothing wrong after a rather cautious start, during which his strike rate hung around 46.00, before he opened up his four-leaf clover and started reaching the boundary ropes with relative ease, ending with a strike rate of 111.76 at the crease.

With Stirling’s departure and the Irish tally at 209/5 in 43 overs, it was only a matter of time, before one would stick a fork in the USA. Their shot and hopes at the World Cup title were being dashed before their very eyes. Ireland would go on to win the match and avenge their loss in Toronto by five wickets and 37 deliveries to spare.

Ireland’s 218/5 in 43.5 overs was a lesson in how patience delivers positive results. From 59/2 to 104/4, then on to 209/5 was in many ways a clinical approach to victory and a team rallying behind one player with a century. Paul Sterling is no slouch with the bat, as he was a regular on the Irish senior men’s team in the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009. He also enjoyed two centuries in the Toronto qualifier last year and an impressive 30 off of 26 balls in a senior men’s ODI against England last August.

The USA’s batting has been inconsistent. When the top order performed, the middle order failed, and at other times, it was the tail-enders who provided Team USA with a chance at winning. On the other hand Team USA’s seven bowlers used against Ireland were very consistent, but lacked the killer instinct in their armory like the pace of the Australians, or the pace/spin combination of the South Africans, to today’s clinical batting approach by the Irish.

Ryan Corns with 8-0-46-3, in many ways redeemed himself with the ball in the losing cause, having failed with the bat. A lot would be said and or written about skipper Shiva Vashishat and the poor tournament he has had so far, after all a lot was also expected of him with the bat. The poor young man was saddled with the responsibility of carrying a team that sported individual talent, but could not seem to be firing on all cylinders at the same time. But then the secret of many successful teams is not that everyone fires all at the same time, but rather the ability to rally around each other and forge partnerships or stingy bowling stints, that make them successful teams. Hopefully, Team USA would learn from these experiences.

The USA plays Canada on Friday, and it should be another exciting match, even if it’s only for border bragging rights. Go TEAM USA!

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