Ireland were left needing just 38 runs on the last day to win their opening Intercontinental Cup game against Namibia at Stormont, after 13 wickets fell yesterday.
Although Ireland’s top four will take no further part in the match, first innings century maker Andrew White and captain Kevin O’Brien are in the middle, confident of turning their first innings advantage into a maximum points victory.
Opening bowler Christi Viljoen and slow left armer Louis van der Westhuizen would seem to the only threat to an Irish win, apart from the rain which is the main reason why this game goes into a fourth day. There was a 45-minute delay yesterday before Namibia could add to their overnight 58 for one, but John Mooney struck in the first over and George Dockrell also claimed a wicket before lunch to a smart leg-side stumping by debutant Stuart Poynter.
The extended afternoon session, however, belonged to Ireland as Namibia lost their last seven wickets for exactly 100 runs.
While Dockrell bowled virtually unchanged from one-end, bringing his tally for the match to eight wickets, it was Mooney who made the vital breakthrough ending Viljoen’s resistance on 87.
O’Brien was content to watch the first 50 overs from mid-off but when he finally introduced himself into the attack, he had the dangerous Gerrie Synman leg before with his 11th ball and, crucially, the big-hitting van der Westhuizen caught at long leg.
The question doing the rounds when Ireland started their chase for 173 was could they finish it in three days. If Paul Stirling has stayed to the end the answer would have been an emphatic ‘yes’ but, after hitting eight fours and a six in a 41-ball 50, he was leg before immediately afterwards.
Gary Wilson had already gone after an unconvincing 30 balls, and while Alex Cusack and Andrew Poynter shared 13 boundaries, neither could see the day through and Ireland were happy to finish the job on day four.
It is decision time at the bottom of North West Senior One and the top of Senior Two tomorrow with Bonds Glen just needing to equal Eglinton’s result in the final round of games tomorrow to stay in the top flight while if Creevedonnell beat The Nedd they will return to the top flight as champions.
Fixtures: Ulster Bank Premier League: Tonight: Carrickfergus v CIYMS (5pm)
Tomorrow: Ulster Bank Premier League: Civil Service North v Instonians (11am), Waringstown v Lisburn (11.30am). Sunday: Instonians v Carrickfergus (11am, T20)
Section One (11.30): Woodvale v Holywood (Dundrum). Sunday: Holywood v Saintfield (noon) Woodvale v Cliftonville (Shaws Bridge, 2.30pm T20)
Section Two: Cooke Collegians v BISC
Henderson Properties Senior League One: Strabane v Eglinton (noon), Bready v Bonds Glen (1pm) Senior Two: The Need v Creevedonnell (noon)