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Porterfield backs Irish bowlers to wrap up victory

By Ian Callender

William Porterfield backed his bowlers to dismiss Papua New Guinea for less than 345 to make it three straight maximum-point victories at the start of their Intercontinental Cup campaign.

The Ireland captain ended the unbeaten sixth wicket stand of 115 between Kevin O'Brien and Andy McBrine to give his bowlers an hour last night and another 96 overs today to take 10 wickets.

The size of the task was underlined when PNG lost only one wicket in the first 15 overs and their first innings century-maker, Assad Vala, ended the day 17 not out.

The resilience of the PNG side earned praise from Ed Joyce who was cruelly run out, backing up, just after he had reached his half century.

Joyce said: "They have fought for three days and are well drilled. It would have been nice to get 100 and would have been even more satisfying (than his two double hundreds in the previous two games).

"Three an over will be hard to get, but we want to go for the win and back our bowlers to do that. We know it will be hard work."

The declaration was surprising in that O'Brien had hit 22 off his previous seven balls and he was just 25 away from his first first-class century for eight years while McBrine, having already topped his previous best score for Ireland, was just 10 short of 50 in his first innings at No.7.

That was the position that John Mooney held for the last five years before his retirement but, according to Joyce, the Donemana all-rounder has the ability to replace him.

"He has been the most impressive batter out here," added Joyce. "He played well in the two-day game and very well in patches. You can see he wants to do it and he has the character."

Ireland needed only nine overs to finish off PNG's first innings for a lead of 101 and the six points put them back level at the top of the table. A win today would put them 14 clear.

Eoin Morgan's England are ready to take another big step in refining their white-ball expertise for forthcoming global tournaments.

England will begin a five-match one-day international series away to South Africa today, with two Twenty20s to follow.

"Any away tour is about learning on your feet and adapting to conditions," said the Irishman.

"One advantage we have had in this tour is that there are more guys who were in the Test team.

"They've been here and can share information, so learning on our feet is one big objective.

"The other is the fact we have pushed our boundaries over the last eight months, (and it) is becoming the norm.

"The further we can do that and the longer we can prolong that I think the better the side we will be when it comes to international tournaments."

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