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Familiar errors resurfacing for Ireland on slow pitches

By Ian Callender

The Ireland squad fly to Abu Dhabi tonight, grateful to have three games in the next week to try and right the wrongs that surfaced again in their final Twenty20 international against Papua New Guinea in Townsville.

PNG's 11-runs victory proved their win at the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Belfast last summer was not a one-off and the Ireland batsmen still find it hard to adapt to slow surfaces.

The same pitch was used for all three games in the series - which Ireland won 2-1 - but the tired wicket exposed the same problems, especially at the top of the order; unable to rotate the strike and difficulty in hitting boundaries. They failed to score from half the deliveries in the first six overs and hit only seven boundaries, though that was two more than their hosts.

William Porterfield was rested but Andrew Poynter was the only other batsman missing and Niall O'Brien and captain for the day Gary Wilson, in his 200th Irish game, were the only batsmen in the top six to hit double figures.

Only Stuart Thompson and Andy McBrine, in his first T20 innings, and George Dockrell had a strike rate better than 100 after Paul Stirling was caught again at backward point and Andrew Balbirnie does not look a replacement opening batsman.

Kevin O'Brien was out first ball and Stuart Poynter, top scorer on Sunday, never got going.

The bowlers did just about all that was asked of them, restricting PNG to less than a run a ball, again without Boyd Rankin who was given another few days' off.

Tim Murtagh finished as the most successful bowler but all three spinners - Stirling took a wicket with his first ball of the tour - had economy rates below five while sharing four wickets.

Papua New Guinea 116-8 (T Murtagh 3-23, G Dockrell 2-15) Ireland 105 (19.1 overs, N O'Brien 27; C Soper 3-13).

Papua New Guinea won by 11 runs

England's winning streak came to an abrupt halt with a seven-wicket defeat as Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla's centuries cancelled out Joe Root's, and reduced South Africa's series deficit to 2-1.

Root's 125 helped England post 318 for eight at Centurion, but De Kock (135) and Amla (127) put on 239 as South Africa won with almost four overs to spare.

Root's ODI career-best spanned partnerships of 125 with Alex Hales (65) and 82 with Ben Stokes (53). Yet England's hopes were blown away as De Kock blazed his way to a fourth hundred in his last six ODI innings alongside back-to-form Amla.

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