Intercontinental Cup: Botha’s 50 keeps Ireland on track for Canada victory
SO much for completing victory by lunch on day three! Ireland’s Intercontinental Cup match against Canada in Toronto was taken into the final day by a combination of stubborn home batting and the weather.
When the predicted rain hit the Cricket, Skating and Curling Club an hour before the close, Ireland were still 52 runs short of their target with just six wickets left and one of those is the captain, Trent Johnston, still sporting a plaster concealing six stitches above his left eye.
It was a record ninth wicket stand against Ireland of 121 which did the damage, keeping the visitors in the field until 55 minutes after lunch and despite Canada being just 49 ahead at the close on Wednesday, Ireland were set the testing target of 176 to win.
It did not start well with Rory McCann, who took a record nine catches in the match, but scored only four runs, caught at second slip, third ball and Paul Stirling followed in the 10th over for 22, going for his sixth boundary. This attempt was placed unerringly in the hands of the fielder at deep square leg.
Kevin O’Brien lasted 21 balls before he was leg before to Rizwan Cheema, but the big positive to come from the extended Canada innings was that it gave Andre Botha time to score his first half century for almost two years.
Still not back to his fluent best, at least Botha found the middle of the bat much more regularly than of late and hit nine boundaries in his 61, off just 84 balls.
He was run out going for a quick single which had already yielded runs off every ball and, ultimately, it was a wasted wicket.
The morning session was one to forget with bad tactics and poor fielding disguising Ireland’s top ranking in Associate cricket.
Stirling put down his second and third catches of the innings and with the second new ball mysteriously delayed by 16 overs, Canada captain Ashish Bagai reached 90 and Khorrum Chohan, at No 10, made his highest first class score.