Kolkata, March 18: The luck of the Irish was shining on the Shamrocks at Kolkata's Eden Gardens. But in the end it was their grit and determination that shone through as they chased down a stiff 306/9 set by the Netherlands. A blistering 72-ball 101 from Paul Stirling set up the win with William Porterfield (68) and Niall O'Brien providing some noteworthy support. Tom Cooper was the most successful bowler for the Dutch taking 2/31 in 7 overs.
The Irish innings was given a brisk start by Paul Stirling. He top-edged Mudassar Bukhari for a fine-leg six to set the tone of the afternoon. Then in the third over, Stirling went after the same medium pacer, getting him away for two fours.
Soon afterward Irish captain and Stirling's opening partner William Porterfield got into the act, smashing off-spinner Adeel Raja for a boundary before knocking two more off Bukhari as Ireland sped to 34/0 in 5 overs.
But the Irish blitz was only just beginning. In the next over, Stirling got Raja away for three fours, before he teamed up with Porterfield to each take a four off Bernard Loots as Ireland had raced past 50 in the 8th over. Then throwing all caution to the wind, the batting duo took 19 runs off Loots in the 10th over to climb to 81/0.
They picked 9 runs off the 16th over as the scoreboard ticked over 100. In the 20th over, Porterfield was dropped off Peter Borren, the ball trickling over the boundary rope and the batsman followed up that stroke of luck with another more confident-looking four as Ireland move onto 132/0 in 20 overs. In the next over, the batsman was dropped yet again.
Then it was Ryan ten Doeschate's turn to bear the brunt of Stirling's belligerence, getting hit for three fours in the 23rd over as Ireland's score ticked well past 150.
Finally, there was respite for the Dutch as Tom Cooper had Porterfield caught behind for 68 and in the next over, off-break Pieter Seelaar foxed Stirling for 101 off 72. Incidentally, just before departing, Stirling had brought up the fourth fastest World Cup century (off 70 balls). Plus, his opening stand of 177 with Porterfield was the third largest of the tournament.
The new Irish batsmen Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien carried on from where their colleagues had left off. In the 32nd over, Joyce laid into Seelaar, getting him away for two fours and in the next over, the batsmen ran a couple of singles to notch up the side's 200.
The batting pair was motoring along till in the 39th over, Joyce was caught behind off Cooper for 28 off 33 balls and Ireland was 233/3, still requiring 74 off 71 balls. Then with his side needing 74 off 62 balls, Niall O'Brien struck a four off Raja and in the next over, Gary Wilson made up the deficit between runs required and balls remaining by biffing Cooper for two sixes and a four. Ireland had moved past 250 in 41 overs.
O'Brien hit two more boundaries off Peter Borren in the 43rd over, reducing the equation to 37 required from 42 balls. Then with 34 needed off 36 balls, Wilson got an out-edge to the third man boundary before he top-edged Doeschate into a gloves of the wicket-keeper. Wilson was on his way for 27 off 21 balls and Ireland was 279/4 in 44.3 overs.
In the 47th over, Niall O'Brien brought bup his 50 and together with his brother Kevin took Ireland over the finishing line.