Amstelveen, July 8: Ireland put themselves just a victory away from becoming the first side to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2015 when they defeated Netherlands by 88 runs in the first of the two Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship matches in Amstelveen on Sunday (July 7).
Captain William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien stroked half-centuries to help Ireland post 236 runs in 49.3 overs, and then Kevin O'Brien broke the back of Netherlands' middle-order when he grabbed a career-best four for 13 as the home side slipped from 77-2 to 148 all out.
Ireland has now moved to 19 points and another win on Tuesday will put it on 21 points, well clear of its closest rivals Scotland (15), Netherland (14) and Afghanistan (11) and a place in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
The top two sides from the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship will go forward to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The other six sides that do not qualify from this event, as well as Nepal and Uganda, will lock horns in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 for the remaining two positions up for grabs.
Batting first after winning the toss, Porterfield and Niall O'Brien put on 125 runs for the third wicket after Ireland was in some bother at 29 for two. The partnership ended when O'Brien was run-out after scoring a fine 70 that came off 107 balls and included four fours.
After the departure of O'Brien, Porterfield found another dependable partner in Kevin O'Brien with whom the left-handed opener put on 43 runs with the latter dominating the stand by contributing a 22-ball 32 with three boundaries and a six.
Porterfield almost batted through the innings and was the ninth batsman out in the final over but not before he had put his side in a position from where it could potentially dictate terms. Porterfield became one of the three Ahsan Malik victims after scoring a watchful 79 that came off 118 balls and included eight elegant boundaries.
Besides Malik, who finished with figures of three for 51, Mudassar Bukhari also bowled well and finished as the pick of home side bowlers with three for 41.
The Netherlands, in its target chase, was cruising smoothly at 77 for two before it was rocked by Kevin O'Brien who returned figures of 7-0-13-4, including the prized scalp of Wesley Barresi, as the home side lost its last eight wickets for 71 runs to fall 88 runs short of its target.
Paul Stirling made amends for his failure at the top of the order when he claimed two wickets for 28 runs, including the scalp of Stephan Myburgh (22) to end his second wicket stand of 55 with Barresi.
Barresi top scored for the Netherlands with 55, an innings that came off 67 balls and included eight fours. Captain Peter Borren, who batted at No.7, was the last Dutch batsman to be dismissed after scoring a run-a-ball 34 with three boundaries and a six.
Scores in brief
Ireland 236 in 49.5 overs (William Porterfield 79, Niall O'Brien 70, Kevin O'Brien 32, Ed Joyce 22; Mudassar Bukhari 3-41, Ahsan Malik 3-51, Edgar Schiferli 2-34)
Netherlands 148 in 36 overs (Wesley Barresi 55, Peter Borren 34, Stephan Myburgh 22; Kevin O'Brien 4-13, Paul Stirling 2-28)