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Niall O'Brien promises that Ireland will up their game

By Ian Callender

Published 01/02/2016

Top knock: Niall O’Brien led the Irish batting with 63 runs
Top knock: Niall O’Brien led the Irish batting with 63 runs

Ireland endured the hardest day of their Intercontinental Cup campaign against Papua New Guinea in Townsville on a day which favoured the bowlers.

The close of play score of 232 for five, after being put into bat, was a far cry from their day one against the UAE at Malahide which ended with Ireland 420-3, or in Windhoek last October when Ireland reduced Namibia to 250 for nine.

Eleven overs were lost in the day to rain and bad light, but top scorer Niall O'Brien still felt Ireland were in a reasonable position, with the sun forecast to shine for the remaining three days and the visitors having a much more experienced and quicker attack.

"We've still plenty of batting to come with Kevin (O'Brien) and Andy McBrine still there and Tim Murtagh is in a bit of nick," said O'Brien, whose innings summed up Ireland's day.

"It's important to get a first-innings lead so it's a big day tomorrow."

With the medium pace PNG bowlers bowling stump-to-stump, the batsmen found it hard to pierce the field and when they did, the rain had slowed the outfield and the number of boundaries in the day (17) was exactly matched by the number of threes.

As a result, O'Brien faced 145 balls for his first 50 and he admitted there was some fatigue in the shot which eventually proved his downfall after almost four hours, a mistimed pull skied to mid-wicket.

William Porterfield was confident and positive at the start of the day, but he was first to go, a tame shot to mid-on and Paul Stirling, the first batsman to have 50 in his sights, was deceived by the lack of pace and played on.

Ed Joyce had scored a double century in the previous two I-Cup games, but he fell well short of a third after a desperately patient 35, from 92 balls with just one boundary and four threes. He was beaten by PNG's best bowler, off spinner Maluru Dai as he danced down the pitch.

At one stage Gary Wilson hit 20 off as many balls on a day when the run rate was only 2.7, but he fell short of 50, trapped on the back foot by the pick of the medium pacers, Chad Soper.

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