IRELAND captain Trent Johnston was “absolutely delighted” with the first day of the Intercontinental Cup clash with the Netherlands at Rathmines which ended with his side just 100 runs behind and with eight first innings wickets remaining.
Debutant Allan Eastwood bowled with the nous of a veteran, spinners George Dockrell and Albert van der Merwe then shared seven wickets for just 61 runs and, by the close, Alex Cusack and Kevin O’Brien had put on 71 for the third wicket as Ireland closed on 88 for two.
“We went to sleep in the field for half an hour and lost a couple of wickets early on but, apart from that, it was a very good day. If we can bat for another three sessions we should have a lead of around 150 and that will put us in a very strong position,” said Johnston.
The Dutch were 82 for two half an hour before lunch and Ireland faced an uphill task but the introduction of spin changed the course of the game.
When Ireland batted immediately after tea, Paul Stirling was caught at third slip in only the fourth over and opening partner James Hall was trapped in front soon afterwards but O’Brien’s power and Cusack’s clean driving has already punished any wayward Dutch bowling and, if they can survive the early overs tomorrow, Ireland will be in a position of strength.