Andy McBrine said before the game that Ireland were peaking at the right time and they proved it with the best performance at the T20 World Cup qualifiers yesterday, to book their flights to Australia in October.

Mark Adair took the final catch to give Ireland a comprehensive 56-run victory over Oman with nine balls unused, but it was McBrine who picked up another player of the match award as he continued his superb form in 2022.

And for the first time in a T20 international, it was McBrine the all-rounder as it was his 36 runs from 21 balls at the end of Ireland’s innings which took the semi-final out of Oman’s reach and, almost inevitably, he added two more wickets as Oman were bowled out for 109.

“It was nice to go in and get a few at the end,” he said with typical modesty. “Bal (skipper Andrew Balbirnie) told me to play with freedom and that’s what I did. I said earlier that my bowling was in a good place and I backed it up.”

McBrine — and Balbirnie — however, both paid tribute to two of the up and coming stars who will be around for many World Cups to come.

After openers Paul Stirling and Balbirnie — with 497 caps between them — were, unbelievably, again dismissed in the same over, this time with just 19 on the board, 24-year-old Gareth Delany and Harry Tector, two years his junior, added 82 in just 57 balls for the third wicket.

Delany, who hit three successive sixes off the Omani skipper, and Tector were out in successive overs and with Lorcan Tucker chopping on first ball, Ireland lost three wickets for four runs in eight balls to leave them 106 for five with just six overs left.

But McBrine (three fours, two sixes), with the help of George Dockrell’s quick-fire 18, including his usual six, added the match-winning 59 runs.

At 68 for two after 10 overs in the reply, Oman were still dangerous but Balbirnie called up Josh Little — another player at the start of his international career — and the 22-year-old left-armer struck twice in four balls; Ireland never relinquished control. Craig Young was also on a hat-trick in his final over as every bowler again made it into the wickets column in a superb all-round display.

After the presentation ceremony, Balbirnie admitted he was still “buzzing” but “relieved more than anything”.
He said: “We knew this week would be difficult but we have come out of it with our best performance of the week in a real clutch game.

“The Namibia disappointment (at last year’s T20 World Cup) was hard to get over but the way the guys reacted on that tour in January (by beating West Indies) and then to come here for a tricky tournament and come out of it going to a World Cup, we’re delighted.

“I wasn’t too disappointed batting first, the wicket was used and breaking up a lot — I was happy to lose the toss — but Gareth and Harry’s partnership was world class.

“They came in from ball one and scored which is what we want them to do, to play with that creativity.”

In tomorrow’s final, Ireland will have another chance to get one over UAE, who bowled out Nepal for 107 to win the other semi-final by 68 runs.

But for both teams, the pressure is off. It’s Australia here we come.

SCORES: Ireland 165-7 (G Delany 47, A McBrine 36, H Tector 35, G Dockrell 18, A Balbirnie 12; Bilal Khan 3-23) Oman 109 (18.3 overs, Shoaib Khan 30; S Singh 3-20, J Little 2-14, A McBrine 2-24,
C Young 2-32, M Adair 1-17).
Ireland won by 56 runs.​​​​​