Cricket: Irish and Scots in 'greatest' game

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The Independent Online
Kuala Lumpur is the unlikely setting for the most crucial match in Scotland's and Ireland's history today as they play each other for the third and final place in the 1999 World Cup.

Scotland's 72-run defeat against Bangladesh in the ICC Trophy yesterday set up the tie that neither side wanted. Both teams, who are staying in the same hotel in the Malaysian capital, hoped to see the other progress through the qualifying tournament. Now, only the winners will join cricket's elite in England in two years' time.

"This will be the most significant game ever for Scottish cricket,"Alex Ritchie, the general secretary of the Scottish Cricket Union, said: "But it is a great shame that we have to meet Ireland."

The Irish lost to Kenya on Monday, while Scotland's struggle to reach the final lasted two days because of rain. Bangladesh closed their 50- over innings on 244 for 7 and their powerful bowling dismissed the Scots for 171.

Bangladesh's qualification, whether or not they win Saturday's final against Kenya, sparked the biggest celebrations in the country's capital, Dhaka, since independence in 1971. Crowds waving flags and chanting "victory for the Tigers" joined street parties amid firecrackers, band music and paint being hurled in all directions.

The players, meanwhile, can look forward to a car, mobile phone and life- long health care from a grateful government on their return.

ICC TROPHY (Kuala Lumpur): Semi-final: Bangladesh 243 for 7 (Khaled Mashud 70); Scotland 171 (G Williamson 39 not out; Mohammed Rafique 4-25). Bangladesh won by 72 runs.

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