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Ireland Women: International Tournaments
2013 Women's World T20 Qualifier
Dublin, Ireland

The 2013 Women's T20 World Cup Qualifying tournament took place in and around Dublin from July 23-31st.

Eight teams - Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ireland, The Netherlands, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Canada and Japan - were vying for three qualification places at the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh which was to be held simultaneously alongside the men's event.

The team captains with the trophy on the roof at Croke Park (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)The team captains with the trophy on the roof at Croke Park (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)

The teams were split into two groups with the cross over semi-finals and placing matches to be contested.

In Group B the opening day went very much according to the form book as Clare Shillington scored Ireland's first century by a woman in a T20 contest. Her unbeaten 117 propelled Ireland to 171 for 1 - sharing an unbroken second wicket partnership of 135 with Cecelia Joyce (40*). Elena Tice - later to play international hockey - took three wickets as Japan were skittled for 53. Sri Lanka were ruthless in their dismantling of Canada, whom could only manage 44 as the Asian side raced to a nine-wicket win in six overs.

In Group A Pakistan overcame Thailand by 69 runs, while the game of the day saw The Netherlands edge out Zimbabwe by just three runs in a real thriller - Leonie Bennett's three wickets helping them defend 95.

However in their next game, the Dutch couldn't repeat the feat as they were restricted to just 85 - Thailand winning by six wickets in a display which emphasized the strides they were making. Pakistan made it two wins from two as half centuries from Bismah Maroof and Sana Mir were more than enough in a 70-run win over Zimbabwe.

Ireland v Canada: Clare Shillington during her innings of 81 for Ireland (©CricketEurope)Ireland v Canada: Clare Shillington during her innings of 81 for Ireland (©CricketEurope)

Sri Lanka were ruthless in their destruction of Japan who they dismissed for just 21 - taking just ten balls to seal a ten wicket win in the most one-sided of contests. Clare Shillington just missed out on back-to-back centuries as she was out for 81 as the Irish posted 146 for 7 versus Canada. Two wickets apiece for Eimear Richardson, Melissa Scott-Hayward and Isobel Joyce saw Ireland win by 77 runs.

Sri Lanka continued in dominant fashion, sweeping aside Ireland who struggled to 62, which proved little obstacle as the Ceylonians won by eight wickets to top the group. In the other match in the group Canada gained their first win as they chased down Japan's 97 to win by five wickets.

Sri Lanka v Netherlands: Mendis is bowled by Bruning (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)Sri Lanka v Netherlands: Mendis is bowled by Bruning (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)

As expected Group A was topped by Pakistan as they beat The Netherlands, but the margin of just 20 runs in a game reduced to nine overs was a real boost to the European side as they would have been expecting a real hammering. The result proved all the more crucial when Zimbabwe caused something of a surprise by beating Thailand by 29 runs - Chatonzwa taking four wickets. There wasn't much to separate the three sides below Pakistan, with the Dutch getting the semi-final berth by just 0.17

As expected Pakistan and Sri Lanka had little trouble accounting for the European sides in the semi-finals. Ireland could only manage 65 in nine-wicket beating by Pakistan - Sadia Yousuf taking four wickets while Kim Garths 38 was a lonely hand in the Irish batting. Sri Lanka made 157 for 6 in their clash with the Dutch, which was 33 too many in a DL adjusted chase of 84 in 9 overs.

In the placings, Thailand beat Canada and Zimbabwe to finish 5th, while Japan and Canada shared the wooden spoon after the last place game fell victim to the weather.

A sharp stumping by Canada's Sivanantham against Thailand (©Joe Curtis)A sharp stumping by Canada's Sivanantham against Thailand (©Joe Curtis)

The most important game was the third/fourth place clash between Ireland and The Netherlands with the winner going forward to the World Cup, while for the losers there would be a long winter ahead to reflect.

What transpired was a memorable match, which atoned for much of the one-sided games which had gone before. Rain forced proceedings into the rest day and Ireland batted first at Claremont Road. Clare Shillington went early but Isobel Joyce carried her bat for 72, sharing a second wicket stand of 80 with Kim Garth (31) as the hosts posted 136 for 5 - Denise Braat 2 for 24 the pick of the Dutch attack.

With rain threatening The Dutch chase was never too far from the target as Helien Rambaldo's half century edged them ever closer. With 29 needed off three overs it looked a tall order but crucial boundaries reduced the equation to four off the final ball. Laura Delany held her nerve as the Irish clinched the two-run win and a World Cup slot.

The contrast in emotions was laid bare as players in green hugged, cheered and sang, while those in orange were inconsolable as their World Cup dreams had been shattered at the last hurdle.

The scheduled final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was washed out but it mattered little to both with the main goal of qualification secured. The teams shared the trophy while Pakistan's Bismah Maroof was named Player of the Tournament.

Pakistan's Bismah Maroof receives her Player of the Tournament award from Dev Govindjee of ICC (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)Pakistan's Bismah Maroof receives her Player of the Tournament award from Dev Govindjee of ICC (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)

For Irish skipper Isobel Joyce, memories of the tournament are still vivid as she recalled to CricketEurope about that dramatic win against The Netherlands.

"We had a very mixed tournament, beating a few teams very badly and then lost really heavily to the likes of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The weather turned bad and we spent the whole day we were due to play the match watching the rain. We knew if the game wasn't played we would go through as we were ranked higher. We came back the second day and it still looked hopeless, but eventually, at the very last second we managed to start on time.

"I personally had endured a terrible tournament. We watched video in the day between our last group game and the first day for our play-off game, and we spotted I was planting my front foot on off stump as the bowler was bowling, so I spent hours in the rain trying to get rid of my involuntary "trigger".

"I finally managed to score some runs in the play-off and we felt happy with our total of 136. But then the Dutch came out and batted the best they ever had against us so we started getting nervous.

"One of the memories that sticks out in my mind is Lucy O'Reilly, who was 13 at the time, was playing in the game. She was incredibly young and she was so small that we couldn't get a kit that fitted her, every time she would bat she would struggle running between the wickets because her pads would be falling off. She also used to wear her cap loosely on her head with her hair not properly tied up.

Isobel Joyce bowling against Pakistan, her 100th cap (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)Isobel Joyce bowling against Pakistan, her 100th cap (©Ian Jacobs/ICC)

"Anyway, before this game her dad, Peter, came up to me and I remember being nervous and wondering what I had done wrong. Peter asked me could I please make Lucy wear her hair up properly in her cap so that her hair wouldn't get into her eyes - I was delighted, permission from her parents! I told her she had to wear her cap and hair properly and in that game she effected an awesome run out and she and I have laughed many times since about how that would never have happened if she had had her normal hairstyle!

"Anyway, the game got down to the last over when they needed just eight runs. I remember looking around the field, trying to decide who to bowl. I know Kim still had an over left but I felt that her extra pace was a negative as their player that was still in - Helmien Rambaldo - is very small and her strength was manoeuvring the ball, plus Kim wasn't making eye contact and looked like she really didn't want the ball!

"It was an easy choice, really, Delars. Laura (Delany) is one of the most competitive people I have ever met and she has a steeliness to her which you would never expect when you first meet her. First ball, wide. Oh god, what have I done, I thought. But she came good and managed to just get hit for five in the over, and we had won by two runs!

"I've never received so much flak for a captaincy decision in my life as I did for that one, let alone one that was successful. Loads of people felt I was crazy to pick Laura because of how slowly she bowled at the time, but I think that moment was when I really became comfortable with the role. I trusted my instincts and the girls trusted me.

"Emotions after the game were relief that we had finally performed well. I was personally proud that I had contributed with the bat, and we were ecstatic to be going to the World Cup. Celebrations were down the road in Mulligans and then off into Rangan's until the wee small hours!"