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Ireland reach nadir with New Zealand allowed to run riot


By Ian Callender

Ireland have been asking for more games against the 'big boys' but they are still small fry when they come up against them.

Their first Tri-Series against two Full Members ended with a third emphatic defeat at Malahide yesterday - the first game was abandoned - as New Zealand, having piled up 344 for six, then dismissed Ireland for 154.

Ireland's peak proved to be last Sunday's defeat to the Kiwis, when they lost by only 51 runs thanks to a century from Niall O'Brien, but that was the only time an Ireland batsman reached 50 in the series, while the bowlers consistently went for a run a ball.

It reached its nadir in the last four overs yesterday when New Zealand plundered 72 with Colin Munro - dismissed first ball last Sunday - gaining his revenge with an astonishing 44 off 15 balls which included three fours and four sixes.

It put the Blackcaps out of sight and the under-performing batsmen under immediate pressure.

They didn't know whether to stick or twist and only captain William Porterfield with 48 from 50 balls was able to take the attack to the bowlers who were able to bring in Matt Henry and Corey Anderson, fresh - or at least returned - from the Indian Premier League. As if last Sunday's attack wasn't good enough!

In contrast, Ireland - some would say bravely - chose to drop Kevin O'Brien, for the first time when fit since his debut season in 2006, and Tim Murtagh. It allowed Simi Singh in as the second spinner and the chance for Craig Young to take the new ball.

Young lasted just two overs - they cost 20 runs - but to his credit the Bready bowler came back after the powerplay and struck with his first ball, to dismiss big-hitting Luke Ronchi.

However, there was at least one boundary in each of his remaining seven overs and when he conceded 20 off his last during the Munro mayhem, it left him with his most expensive figures for Ireland.

He should have had a second wicket in the 33rd over when he had New Zealand captain Tom Latham brilliantly held, low at third man, by Barry McCarthy, but when the umpires asked for the review, the TV pictures showed Young had overstepped. Unusually, it didn't cost him the run off the bat, however, as the umpires ruled that Latham had not completed the run because he chose to head back to the pavilion once he had seen the catch being held.

Singh justified his inclusion with an economical spell which went for less than four an over - by comparison, lead spinner George Dockrell had figures of 1-65 - but it looks like he will need many more innings at this level before he nails down a No 7 slot in the order and so far does not look an improvement on Andy McBrine, dropped for this series to make way for the new Irish citizen.

The first 36 overs of the New Zealand innings were dominated by Latham's innings and after enjoying his 'no ball' reprieve on 89 reached his third ODI century from 109 balls with eight fours and four sixes. Dockrell had him stumped shortly afterwards but that only let in the really big hitters!

After the match Porterfield reiterated Ed Joyce's comments at the weekend when he said they were still getting used to playing one big team after another but admitted they should not be losing by 190 runs.

"No, not at all," he said, "but that shows on the day the difference in consistent skill level. We have to improve on that as players.

"There are a lot of us who have been around for a long time who have played a lot of cricket, but never mind the cameos at the end which got them up to a winning total, the way Latham played today in the middle overs showed what we have to do as batters on a consistent basis.

"Then, with the ball, we are not asking their batters to score runs off good balls - and that's back to consistency."

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