Cricket: Bowlers have Ireland on the brink in Toronto
An injury to Trent Johnston turned Ireland’s expected charge to victory into a desperate battle to take wickets on the second day of their Intercontinental Cup match against Canada in Toronto.
The Ireland captain was cut above the left eye when batting in his side’s first innings and immediately retired hurt.
When Johnston left the field, Ireland were 252 for six, a lead of 131, but the last three wickets added just nine runs and, in his absence, the Ireland bowlers struggled in the afternoon session as Canada reduced the deficit by 85 for the loss of just one wicket.
It didn’t help Ireland’s cause that acting captain Kevin O’Brien did not bring himself on to bowl until the 37th over and Andre Botha, in his first international for four months because of injury, bowled only three overs in his first spell.
But seven wickets in the final session, with three apiece for the two most experienced bowlers kept Ireland in control and Canada start the third day, when Johnston is expected to return, leading by 49 with just two second innings wickets standing.
Of the rest of the bowlers Allan Eastwood, the Pembroke seamer, was again impressive although it was Phil Eaglestone who made the only breakthrough, having opener Nitish Kumar caught at second slip by Paul Stirling.
It was just reward for Eaglestone who was the unlucky bowler when Ruvindra Gunasekera was dropped at square leg by Andrew Poynter, the substitute for Johnston. He had made only two at that stage and would hang around for another 36 overs.
Andrew White dominated the morning session as Ireland’s last six wickets added just 71 to their overnight score.
White scored all but 14 of the runs off the bat and in the process moved up to fourth in the all-time list of Ireland run-scorers, going past Alan Lewis and William Porterfield. Now on 3.603 runs, he needs only another 14 to go third ahead of Kyle McCallan.