Scotland start favourites even as batters look to find a way to shake off rustiness
When the schedule for Scotland’s tour of Ireland was announced, there were question marks about how the players will perform after a break of more than 18 months. Ireland were the ones thought to be better placed coming into the first T20I considering they were supposed to be the stronger side among the two and had some game time under their belts in the ongoing domestic Super Series tournaments.
In the opening game of the series, it all felt like it was going to script when Kathryn Bryce’s Scotland-side won the toss and opted to bat. The batters looked rusty from the start, struggling to hit the ball off the square, while Ireland’s bowlers looked like a well-oiled machine. Orla Prendergast and debutant Ava Canning set the tone with their opening spells, not allowing Scotland to score freely, and leg-spinner Celeste Raack backed them up superbly with an incisive spell in the middle over. At the halfway stage Scotland’s total looked nowhere near enough. It seemed as though the hosts would kick off their international season with a win.
However, the visitors showed great fight with the ball. Led ably by Kathryn, who bowled an incisive opening spell, the entire bowling unit stepped up when the pressure was on. Allrounder Katie McGill, who top-scored for Scotland in the first innings, put Ireland firmly on the back foot with a three-wicket burst.
Even though they recovered from 48 for 7 to make it seem like they played a close match, Ireland were never in the game once they lost half their side including Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany. The impact of the first game is so much that, Scotland will start as favourites come the second T20I on Tuesday (May 25) with not much recovery time for the hosts.
It’s not all not lost for Ireland. With the matches coming thick and fast, there won’t be much time to brood on the loss and they will be hoping that their premier batters Lewis and Delany come good on Tuesday. They will need some help from young Prendergast, who at the moment is more of a bowling allrounder, and experienced Shauna Kavanagh if they are to build on the good work done by the bowlers.
For Scotland, they may not be overly worried about the batting failures, for Sarah looked good before running herself out and ever-reliable Kathryn had a rare out-of-sorts day with the bat. Both Bryce sisters are coming from some game time in England and the Wildcats will be hoping that they can lead the charge yet again to put up a decent score on the board if they win the toss.
With conditions expected to aid medium pacers yet again, Prendergast could be the key figure yet again for Ireland when it comes to bowling. Ahead of the series, 18-year-old pacer talked about wanting to put her team into winning positions with both the bat and the ball. She talked about using the time away from international cricket to work on every aspect of her game.
“Being without international cricket for a long period has left me with a lot of time to work on things that I wouldn’t have wanted to change if I had upcoming matches. I’ve been working on my bowling action and consistency a lot, and also my game plan with the bat,” Prendergast said.
If Prendergast can deliver on the promise she showed so far, she could be Ireland’s answer to the loss of Kim Garth.
For Scotland, the elder of the Bryce sisters, Kathryn will once again lead the bowling attack with McGill and promising Katherine Fraser for support. Priyanaz Chatterji and Abtaha Maqsood make their bowling line-up a well-rounded one.
Which of the bowling side will have a better day on Tuesday and can the batters deliver for their respective sides? We will have to wait and watch.
Ireland: Laura Delany (c), Ava Canning, Rachel Delaney, Georgina Dempsey, Amy Hunter, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis, Jane Maguire, Lara Maritz, Cara Murray, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Jenny Sparrow, Rebecca Stokell
Scotland: Kathryn Bryce (c), Sarah Bryce, Becky Glen, Lorna Jack, Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Ikra Farooq, Abtaha Maqsood, Samantha Haggo, Katie Mcgill, Priyanaz Chatterji, Ailsa Lister, Katherine Fraser, Ellen Watson, Megan McColl