Ireland 349 for 4 (Stirling 162, Balbirnie 66, Tector 57, Sanchit 3-46) beat UAE 211 (Waseem 45, Sanchit 44, Dockrell 2-32, McBrine 2-34) by 138 runs
But that was the fate UAE – another team knocked out of contention before this game – could not prevent as they slipped to 211 all out on a good batting track.
Stirling stamped his authority from ball one. With some swing on offer early on, Junaid Siddique pitched it up and Stirling leaned into the drive, caressing it away through the covers. That was an ominous sign of things to come from the big-hitting opener.
Stirling stayed watchful through the first ten overs, even as Andy McBrine started to pick up the pace after a slow start. Sanchit was introduced in the attack after seven overs and made an immediate impact, trapping McBrine lbw with a length ball that seamed in from outside off.
But Stirling immediately put the pressure back on the bowlers with two back-to-back fours in the next over by Ali Naseer. He brought up his half-century off 56 deliveries.
Balbirnie, coming into the match with scores of 12, 0 and 7 in his last three games, was a touch slow as he took on the role of an anchor while Stirling kept the scoreboard ticking.
Stirling reached his century off 98 balls in the 34th over, slogging Aayan Afzal Khan over midwicket to get to his 14th ODI hundred. Balbirnie reached his fifty off the final delivery of that over and both batters hit a six each off Karthik Meiyappan in the next.
Basil Hameed was brought on as UAE looked for wickets and Stirling greeted him with three sixes. Stirling and Balbirnie added 184 from 178 balls for the second wicket. After Balbirnie fell to Naseer in the 39th over, Tector came in and kept the runs coming along with Stirling.
But there was no relief for UAE, as Tector put them to the sword, bringing up his half-century off just 30 balls. He became Sanchit’s third victim of the game in the penultimate over, but George Dockrell and Tucker took 16 runs off the last over to set up a 350-run target.
In the chase, Waseem dominated the opening stages, hitting 45 of the 58 runs scored before he got out. A length ball from Barry McCarthy shot up and hit him on the gloves. The ball rolled towards cover, but Waseem was grimacing from the blow and started walking towards the square leg umpire while signalling for a physio, not realising that the ball was not yet dead. Balbirnie was sharp to what was happening and, seeing Waseem wandering outside his crease, swooped in and threw the stumps down.
His opening partner Aryansh Sharma was soon done in for his lack of footwork, cutting a short and wide delivery from McCarthy straight to point. Little, returning for another spell, sent back Vriitya Aravind and Ethan D’Souza in consecutive overs. McBrine put Ireland in command with two wickets in the 21st.
Sanchit, who was UAE’s best bowler, also impressed with the bat as he and Hameed added 70 runs for the seventh wicket, but they could just take them to a respectable total, with Ireland’s score never in threat of being chased down. They both hit three sixes each before Hameed skied a sweep off Dockrell to deep backward square.
Sanchit was quick to follow, miscuing Curtis Campher to long-on before the Ireland bowlers mopped up the tail to complete a consolation win.
Abhimanyu Bose is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo