Rankin shines but Irish unable to wrap up early victory
When the Ireland team turned up at Malahide yesterday morning, they had high hopes they would have a day off today, having completed a comprehensive Intercontinental Cup win against the Netherlands.
The maximum points victory may still happen but it will need a much improved bowling performance on the final day after the Dutch closed the first innings deficit to 102, having started the day 337 runs in arrears.
Ireland have already lost four wickets in the rush for quick runs in their second innings but with a lead of 269 they are surely in a position from which they will not lose the match - but that was never the objective; nothing less than 10 wickets today will suffice.
Boyd Rankin was the one bowler who could be excused any blame yesterday. The out-of-favour Warwickshire paceman, in his first game for Ireland since January and only his second I-Cup game since his return from England duty 12 months earlier, deservedly finished with a five-wicket haul.
It was only the second time he had achieved the feat for Ireland, in his 96th game, but he admitted afterwards it was hard work on a flat pitch.
"The bowlers stuck to their task but it was nice to get those wickets," said Rankin. "I felt in pretty good rhythm, considering I hadn't bowled with a red ball for about six weeks, and it seemed to get better the more I bowled.
"We knew the Dutch still had a couple of decent batters and we just had to keep them under pressure, but it is the sort of wicket that if you do get in you can score runs."
The seventh-wicket stand of 160 between Max O'Dowd and Logan van Beek proved that, as the Ireland bowlers toiled for 43 overs without a wicket either side of lunch.
The first session was particularly painful for the spinners who sent down 12 overs and had aggregate figures of 0-71 with half of those overs from Jacob Mulder, Ireland's lead spinner in preference to George Dockrell in this game, conceding 43 of them.
The Ireland fielding also fell well short of Test standard - the new benchmark for this Ireland side - with misfields conceding boundaries, overthrows going for five and four dropped catches.
The first, in only the second over of the day, by Andrew Balbirnie at second slip did not cost anything as he made amends from the same shot by Ben Cooper in Tim Murtagh's next over,
But that was to be Ireland's only success before lunch, with Van Beek surviving a tough chance to Murtagh and O'Dowd, on 80, a much simpler one to Rankin at mid-on.
Gary Wilson would also, later, miss Tim Visee down the leg side, before he had scored.
When Balbirnie held on to a sharp catch to dismiss O'Dowd, Netherlands still needed 19 to avoid the follow-on target and although Rankin struck again in his next over to remove Van Beek, the ninth-wicket pair breezed past their first objective with two fours in an over off Kevin O'Brien and even the last-wicket stand added 23 before Rankin claimed his fifth, a mistimed pull shot skied to the keeper.
Ed Joyce perished early, playing a one-day shot in the third over, but William Porterfield was more fortunate, first of all surviving a huge appeal for a catch in gully on 44 and immediately after bringing up his 50 a dolly to mid-wicket which was somehow spilled.
He resumes this morning needing 11 runs for his fifth I-Cup century and although Andrew Balbirnie was dismissed for the first time in the match after scoring 255 runs - 13 short of Jeremy Bray's Ireland record - and John Anderson and Gary Wilson lasted a total of nine balls, Kevin O'Brien, Simi Singh and Jacob Mulder can ensure Porterfield can declare.
• IRELAND have been drawn with Sri Lanka (January 14), Pakistan (Jan 16) and Afghanistan (Jan 20) at next year's World Cup in New Zealand. They play England and Canada in warm-ups.
Ireland 1st innings 477-6 dec (A Balbirnie 205, J Anderson 74, W Porterfield 60, E Joyce 43, G Wilson 39, J Mulder 38 not out; S Snater 5-116)
NETHERLANDS 1st INNINGS
B Cooper c Balbirnie b Murtagh 82
M O’Dowd c Balbirnie b Rankin 105
L van Beek c Joyce b Rankin 76
T Visee c Wilson b Rankin 30
S Snater b Chase 19
Q Gunning not out 13
Extras (3lb) 3
Total (113.5 overs) 375
Fall: 1-9 2-9 3-92 4-113 5-117 6-149 7-309 8-314 9-352
Bowling: T Murtagh 25-9-52-2, B Rankin 19.5-7-49-5, P Chase 23-2-110-1, K O’Brien 12-4-33-0, J Mulder 26-4-96-2, S Singh 5-1-19-0, J Anderson 3-0-13-0
IRELAND 2ND INNINGS
E Joyce c sub b van Beek 9
W Porterfield not out 89
A Balbirnie b Barresi 50
J Anderson c Visee b Gunning 5
G Wilson b Barresi 1
K O’Brien not out 10
Extras (2lb 1w) 3
Total (4 wkts, 41 overs) 167
Fall: 1-12 2-125 3-134 4-139
Bowling: L van Beek 8-0-32-1, S Snater 9-0-23-0, O Gunning 9-1-42-1, M O’Dowd 10-0-48-0, W Barresi 5-0-20-2
- Today: 11am-6.30pm