All-rounder Simi Singh produced an “exceptional” career best one-day international performance with bat and ball to steer Ireland to a crushing 112-run win over United Arab Emirates on Monday which levelled the series at 1-1.
Coming in with Ireland struggling at 99-5, Singh made 54 not out from 57 balls and shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 91 with Curtis Campher who made 56.
Ireland reached 228-6 from their 50 overs and then bowled out UAE for just 116 in 36 overs with off-spinner Singh taking an astonishing 5-10 from his 10 overs.
“It was just one of those days when everything clicked with the bat and the ball,” said Singh, who was born in India but has lived in Ireland since arriving as a student when he was 17.
It is the second-best performance by an Irish bowler in ODIs after Paul Stirling’s six for 55 against Afghanistan in 2017.
“For Simi to come into the game, not having played in the first one, and bowl with that control was exceptional,” said Ireland captain Balbirnie.
“The control, the accuracy and the wicket-taking ability, it was an absolute joy to watch him.”
UAE won the opening encounter on January 8 without vice-captain Chirag Suri and uncapped left-arm spinner Aryan Lakra who both tested positive for coronavirus.
The next two games, in what had been scheduled as a four-match series, were then axed despite a series of attempts to reschedule as the home squad were hit by a wave of Covid-19 positive tests.
– ‘Bat deep’ –
After losing the toss and being put in, Ireland made a poor start to their innings as Kashif Daud removed Kevin O’Brien, playing in his 150th ODI, in the second over.
When Stirling and Andy Balbirnie fell in quick succession to Zahoor Khan, the Irish were in deep trouble at 10-3.
Harry Tector, who made 33, and Lorcan Tucker, 42, began the rebuilding process before 21-year-old Campher, who was named man of the series, and Singh joined forces in a vital sixth-wicket stand.
“When I went to the crease I chatted with Curtis and the plan was just to take the game as deep as we can and then try to explode at the end,” said Singh.
“Luckily that happened for us.”
UAE made a good start in the chase to reach Ireland’s 228 with the openers Zawar Farid and Vriitya Aravind adding 46 before Singh, in his second over, had Farid caught by Gareth Delany at deep square-leg on the sweep.
Shortly after, Chundangapoyil Rizwan and Aravind both hoiked the 33-year-old spinner down the throat of Craig Young at long-on before Singh had Basil Hameed caught behind by Tucker and Muhammad Usman leg before.
Singh picked up the first five wickets.
“We are really happy to win by a big margin which was important for us. That will give us huge confidence going forward,” said Singh.
Ireland will remain in the UAE to play a three-game ODI series against Afghanistan.