Rankin finds his groove to put Irish in control
The bowlers hauled Ireland back into pole position at the halfway stage of their Intercontinental Cup clash with Papua New Guinea in Townsville and leading from the front was the returning hero, Boyd Rankin.
The former England Test bowler, back with Ireland after an absence of exactly 40 months, was unplayable at times as the hapless PNG batsmen were unable to deal with the pace and bounce Rankin generated from a slow surface.
In all, the gentle giant from Bready sent down 16 overs, in four-over spells due to the fierce heat, conceding just three twos and six singles off the bat.
His first wicket came in his fifth over, a catch at third slip, and he hit the stumps for the first time three overs before the close to reduce PNG to 155 for seven, still 134 behind Ireland's first innings total.
Rankin received excellent support from his successor at Bready, Craig Young who, after conceding 22 runs in his first five overs, stormed back to take two wickets for 14 in his next two spells.
But the pick of the bowlers was Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh who finished with three for 30 from 17 overs.
Murtagh said: "It's up there with the most uncomfortable days, in terms of sweating, but we stuck to it well," said Murtagh. "We are in control and if we can mop up the last three wickets in the morning we will be in a really good position.
"It's great to have Boyd back, he just adds that different threat that we have been missing for the last three years."
Spinners Andy McBrine and George Dockrell are still waiting for their first wickets but they should come into their own in the fourth innings.
Ireland finished the group stage of the Under-19 World Cup without a win after falling to a third straight defeat yesterday against New Zealand.
The top order batting took Ireland to 167 for three with 10 overs remaining but they were bowled out for 212 and the Kiwis knocked off the runs with 47 balls and four wickets to spare.
Captain Jack Tector again finished top scorer with 56 and Ireland's play-off game will be on Thursday, probably against South Africa.