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O'Brien shines before bus driver leaves Ireland in the dark

 

By Ian Callender in Dubai

Ireland's top order received their punishment for flopping on day one of their Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland in Dubai by having to wait more than an hour after the match for transport back to the team hotel.

It was quite an extraordinary scene as the 12th ranked Test match squad stood around in darkness with only the ground security for company while the bus driver, who had arrived 'only' 20 minutes late, drove off again because his brother was on board and ICC regulations insist that no-one outside the squad can travel on the team bus.

It completed an imperfect day, rescued only by Kevin O'Brien and the tail - the last four wickets more than doubling the total and the last two adding 85 to get Ireland to a workable 251.

A couple of wayward overs from Boyd Rankin and Peter Chase, however, allowed Scotland to take firm control by the close and, if they score another 215 today with all 10 wickets standing, they will take the first innings lead and Ireland's reign as I-Cup holders will be over.

Yet one hour into their final I-Cup match - before their red ball action becomes Test cricket - it was all so different. It was two fours and out for Paul Stirling, but captain William Porterfield and Andrew Balbirnie threatened to make it back to back centuries in the competition and in double quick time.

Ireland were 73 for one at the first drinks break but, in a remarkable turnaround, the introduction of left arm spinner Mark Watt and accurate medium fast Stuart Whittingham reduced Ireland to 84 for four at lunch. Alarmingly, only John Anderson could say he was undone by a brilliant ball, and it was no better in the third hour as Gary Wilson and Simi Singh joined the procession back to the pavilion.

O'Brien, first with Dockrell and then Tim Murtagh and Chase, finally restored some sort of respectability to the total, with O'Brien, building to a crescendo with three straight sixes, facing 97 balls in three hours - he hit only six other boundaries.

His brother Niall has arrived back in Dubai and is available for next week's one-day internationals against Afghanistan after returning home "for personal reasons" last week.

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