Ireland are in a commanding position in Group A after recording their second straight win in as many days following Saturday’s nail-biting two run verdict over Canada in Abu Dhabi.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons named an unchanged side from the one that had started the tournament with a win over Namibia on Friday but with Ashish Bagai winning the toss, the Irish found themselves taking first use here.
William Porterfield and Paul Stirling opened the innings but the partnership only lasted three overs before the skipper mistimed a drive and was gone for just five.
Stirling was in typically aggressive form but his stay was to be short too as he was trapped in front by Harvir Baidwan for 16 made up exclusively in boundaries.
That brought the O’Brien boys together and they set about repairing the early damage with a solid partnership. The brothers added a very valuable 62 runs to their side’s cause- made off just 38 balls- before Kevin was caught at the wicket by skipper Bagai for 31 (2 fours and a six).
Trent Johnston was promoted up the order to number five, however Hansra struck again in his next over as he tempted Niall O’Brien down the track to be stumped by Bagai for 27 (3 fours).
Johnston and Gary Wilson took the total to 133 for 4 heading into the last couple of overs before Wilson was caught in the deep for a valuable 24.
John Mooney was the next man in but the decision to promote “TJ” had worked for Ireland as he saw the innings out with a superb unbeaten 39 made off only 24 balls (3 fours, 2 sixes).
Mooney was unbeaten on 14 (2 fours) allowing Porterfield’s side to close on 168 for 5, with 27 of those coming in the last 2 overs, which was to prove so crucial in the final analysis.
Hansra (2-24), Baidwan (2-29) and Siddiqui (1-30) were the successful Canadian bowlers.
The reply got off to the worst possible start for Bagai’s men when Max Sorensen trapped Hiral Patel dead in front from the very first ball of the innings and followed that up by removing Cheema with his next. It was almost the hat-trick too as skipper Bagai got an inside edge onto the third delivery which only just missed the top of leg stump on the way past. The Canadian captain took advantage of his good fortune however as he and Ruvindu Gunasekera then led an excellent recovery.
Needing 8.5 an over the pair had little time to consolidate but to their credit they fought back well, posting a half century partnership in little more than five overs. The introduction of George Dockrell and Alex Cusack helped put the brakes on, temporarily at least however, those two conceding just 12 runs in the next three overs.
Despite the increasing run rate the Canadian batsmen still looked dangerous and at the halfway stage they had edged slightly ahead. Gunasekera reached his 50 with a six off Kevin O’Brien but just as he looked set to take it home for Canada he was undone by Cusack for a superb 65 (7 fours and a six), sharing in a 125-run stand with his skipper.
Bagai brought up his 50 off the very next ball and going into the final five overs they needed 46 to pull off a huge win.
Johnston and Dockrell then turned the screw but despite running everything, the Canadians could only find one boundary leaving them going into the last over needing 14 to win. Cusack was given the responsibility and despite Hansra clubbing the third ball for six, he held his nerve to edge Ireland to a priceless two run win.
Ireland are back in action tomorrow (SUN 10AM UK/Ireland) when they face hosts UAE, who are also unbeaten following their routine victory against Namibia earlier today.
ICC World T20 Qualifiers,
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Ireland 168/5 (20 overs, T Johnston 39* , K O’Brien 31, N O’Brien 27, G Wilson 24) beat Canada 166/3 (20 overs, A Bagai 67*, R Gunasekerea 65, M Sorensen 2-23) by two runs