Ireland needed a good start as the winner and runner-up would both qualify for the first World 20/20 tournament, and they would get big money in that each of the winner and runner-up would get US dollars 250,000. Ireland did not get the start they needed. This, the 100th match against Scotland, sadly ended in defeat but was a wonderful and exciting game. Ireland scored 280 but failed to defend the total despite Scotland being 158 for six with 123 then needed off 16 overs. The Irish team and followers could not conceive a defeat after a score of 280 but the Scots, as usual, were up to the challenge. Wonderful batting by McCallum, who won the Man-of-the Match award, Smith and Wright saw Scotland home. 15 were required and achieved in the last over. The scores were tied with one ball left. A straight four by Wright finished the match.
Ireland had been at Port Elizabeth in South Africa for nets and practice matches for three weeks. This period had gone well. Arriving in Nairobi, which is at high altitude, on Sunday this match was played on Tuesday at the premier Nairobi ground, Gymkhana. This was the ground on which Ireland had played in their first ICC Trophy in 1994. The day was overcast but warm. The pitch was flat but slow, the outfield fast. Of the Irish 15, Gillespie, who had not shaped well in the winter, was left out after 25 successive matches going back to 2005. The other three omitted were P Mooney, Rankin and Carroll. Scotland's team was more or less their "usual" 11. One of the umpires was the controversial D Hair. The other was Dill of Bermuda. The latter, late in the game, was not in a position to give a run out decision when he should have been, a crucial factor in the match. Curiously Hair and Dill were the umpires in Ireland's first ever ODI against England at Stormont in 2006.
Wright replaced Blain for over 12 and the medium-paced Brown replaced Hoffman for over 15. Bray, when 26, was dropped in this over by Watson at square leg. The 15 over score was 68 so 28 had come in the second power play. Scotland called their final power play from overs 16 to 20. Ireland's tally in this five over period was only 10 so, at 20 overs, the score was 78. In over 23 Morgan hit Brown for six over wide mid-wicket. Next over he was out. It was a very bad "nibble" on the back foot and he was caught at the wicket. Morgan is too good a player to play such strokes. 95-2-41 after 24 overs.
N O'Brien lasted 10 balls for 10 runs, including two fours. The 25 over score was 105, 2 fours to Bray in this over bringing the 100 up. Haq's off spin was tried in over 27. O'Brien hit his two fours in this over and was lbw to the last ball, trying to turn a straight ball to leg. 119-3-10. K O'Brien replaced his brother. Blain replaced Wright for two overs, in the second of which Bray, with a three, went to 52 out of 133 of 81 balls. This was his 15th score of 50 or more out of 60 innings batted. The score after 30 overs was 133, so an ultimate score of around 265/270 was the target.
Slow left-armer Lyons came on for over 32 and K O'Brien was out in Haq's next over, the 33rd. It was a wonderful catch on the mid-wicket boundary of a "pick up" shot. McCallum ran 20 yards to his right and caught the ball two-handed as he ran. 142-4-13. Worse followed four overs later. 150 was up in over 26 but Botha became Haq's third victim in over 27. He overreached and was out to a very quick stumping by Smith. 155-5-4. McCallan was next. With 14 overs to go Ireland needed to stop losing wickets and score over 100 in those overs. In fact only two more wickets were lost for 125 more runs. Bray hit a six to mid-wicket off the last ball of the Haq over which saw Botha's dismissal. McCallan was doing well and Bray hit another mid-wicket six off Lyons in over 40. After 40 overs the score was 180, the last 10 overs bringing 47 runs. Hoffman came back for Lyons in over 42 and Bray hit his third six off Haq in over 43. This was over long-on and brought up 200. In over 44, bowled by Hoffman, McCallan glanced a full toss for four but was out next ball. He played on trying to cut. 206-6-22. The 51 runs stand had come of 44 balls.
Better followed! Johnston came in. In the next six overs, from 43.3 to 49.3, bowled by Hoffman, Haq, Wright and Lyons, no less than 65 runs were put on, mostly by dint of a massive onslaught by Johnston, who scored 39 runs in 18 balls. The score after 45 overs was 217. In over 46 Johnston hit Wright for a square six and, in the same over, Bray went to 100 with a single to mid-wicket. His hundred came out of 227 in 124 balls. This was his fifth century for Ireland and now only IJ Anderson's seven centuries is above him. Over 46 added 11 and nine more came in over 47. Bray got 11 of the 13 runs scored in over 48, bowled by Wright. Lyons bowled over 49, a somewhat strange option with both Blain and Brown available. It was Ireland's best over, 19 runs coming off it with Johnston hitting two straight sixes and a four. The principle of doubling your scorer after 30 overs would have predicted 266. This had been reached and indeed there was a 14 run bonus to come. There were nine sixes and 24 fours. Hoffman bowled the last over. The third ball bowled Bray who swung at it. His 116 took 136 balls with four sixes and 10 fours, 64 of his 116 had come in boundaries. J. Mooney arrived and saw Johnston hit the last ball for a straight six, his fourth. In 19 balls he had scored 45. With 280, about 20 over par, Ireland were surely confident. Scotland used six bowlers with Hoffman, Wright and Haq bowling 10 each. The wicket-takers were Hoffmann, 3-44 and Haq, 3-53. Lyons was hit for 57 in his seven overs.
Scotland began at 1.40 p.m. with the youthful left-handed Haq and Watts. Haq hit two fours in the second over, bowled by Langford-Smith and Watts was out to Johnston in over five. He skied to the substitute fielder Carroll at mid-on. Carroll was on for Bray who had a strain and did not field at all. 14-1-2. Watson came in. The opening bowlers bowled 10 overs between them, after which the score was 39. Botha came on for over 11, replacing Johnston, and Watson hit a six over mid-wicket. A four and a big straight six by Haq off Langford-Smith's sixth over, brought the score to 60 in 12 overs. Ireland called their second and third power plays from overs 11 to 20. Watson departed in Botha's second over. He pulled very high, an edge, to normal Square-Leg where K. O'Brien made the catch after a slight fumble. 60-2-22.
Hamilton joined Haq. Now there were two left-handers in and Kevin O'Brien came on to bowl. The stand proved to be worth 30 in 51 deliveries with eight no-balls and wides. Then, in over 21, Morgan took a great slip catch, two-handed, diving to his left to dismiss Hamilton who was driving at the ball. 90-3-11. This was Botha's second wicket. McCallum and Haq now had a good stand of 55 in about 11 overs. McCallum very nearly did not get off the mark. He skied O'Brien to mid-on where McCallan turned, ran back, dived and almost caught the ball. McCallan came on for over 24 and his first ball saw the hundred up. The 25 overs score was 108. So now, 173 were needed in the last 25 overs at a rate of seven runs per over. In over 29, Haq reached 50 out of 128 in 66 balls. The 30 overs score was 132 so now 149 were needed in 20 overs, a rate of almost 7.5 per over.
J Mooney was given three overs but they cost 26, the last of them costing 17. McCallan, in over 32, bowled Haq who, for some unknown reason, had a wild swing. 145-4-52. His 52 had come in 71 balls. Brown joined McCallum but lasted only 8 balls. In McCallan's sixth over, and the 34th, he played a reverse sweep. Carroll, at normal square-leg, dived to his left and caught the ball low and one-handed. This was a staggering catch. 155-5-3. Hoffman came in to hit and improve the rate, but was run out off the last ball of this 34th over. McCallum played the ball to cover. Porterfield made a diving stop, got up, and his throw to Niall O'Brien beat Hoffman. 158-6-0.
Smith arrived with a runner (Watts) to join McCallum. At this point 123 were needed in 16 overs, a rate of nearly 8 per over. White bowled three overs at this point. McCallum had gone to 50 in over 36, off 57 balls, and now he hit White for a six in over 37. Johnston came back for three overs but his second, the 41st, cost 11 and brought up 200. 80 were now needed in nine overs. Johnston's third and last over in this spell, the 43rd, cost 11 more. McCallan completed his 10 overs at a cost of 41 runs. Langford-Smith replaced him for over 44, which cost 13. Botha replaced Johnston and the score after 45 overs was 236. Now 45 were needed in five overs. Kevin O'Brien bowled over 46. McCallum hit a six and a single to bring up his century in only 91 balls. The six caused a controversy. It was brilliantly caught low and two handed by Porterfield running to his left at deep extra cover. The question was did he touch the rope? Porterfield said he did not know. The probability was that he did. The umpire correctly gave a six.
McCallum was out to Botha in the next over, the 47th, caught by White at deep mid-wicket. The fielder did not have to move to take it. 248-7-100. Wright came in with 33 to win off 21 balls. The total reached 250 at the end of 47 overs. The 48, bowled by O'Brien, gave up eight and produced another controversy. A throw from the boundary was back-handed by bowler O'Brien onto the stumps with Wright out of his ground. The umpire, badly positioned, gave him not out, a decision which might have cost Ireland the match. The score after 48 overs was 258. Now 23 were needed off 12 deliveries. Eight of those came in over 49, bowled by Johnston. Could Scotland really get 15 in over 50? Yes they could was the answer! O'Brien was the bowler. This was bad planning. Such a young and inexperienced bowler should not have been given the last over. The over plan should have been made some six or seven overs out. In any event the first ball produced a single to Wright. The second was straight driven for a six by Smith. The third produced a single by Smith to extra-cover. The fourth ball produced another straight six, this time to Wright. The scores were now tied. The fifth ball was a dot and Wright drove the last straight for four.
It was a wonderful game, very exciting, but Ireland should not have lost. They fielded magnificently. As regards Scotland, McCallum, Smith and Wright were superb. They scored 172 runs between them, all from the middle of the bat, and in the last 20 overs got 152 of them. Ireland could not get the ball past the bat. Ireland used seven bowlers. Two of them bowled their allotment of 10 overs, Botha, 3-46 and McCallan, 2-41. O'Brien, Langford-Smith and Johnston were expensive but one of the two latter bowlers should have bowled the last over.
In 100 matches against Scotland between 1888 and 2007, 25 were won by Ireland, 37 lost and 38 drawn. The bulk of these matches were the annual three-day first-class matches. A ball change after about 40 overs had a huge bearing on the game. The ball was dirty but it was now soft and hard to get away. The replacement ball was almost new and hard and could easily be got away. Ireland complained to ICC after the match. Proper substitute balls of the requisite age should have been available.