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Rare highlight: Ireland’s Mark Adair celebrates his bowling of Aiden Markram

Rare highlight: Ireland’s Mark Adair celebrates his bowling of Aiden Markram

Rare highlight: Ireland’s Mark Adair celebrates his bowling of Aiden Markram

A change of venue but no improvement in Ireland’s fortunes as South Africa’s spinners, including a man called Fortuin, again proved too good for the home batsmen in the second T20 international at Stormont.

Bjorn Fortuin is the latest left arm slow bowler introduced by the tourists and after getting the walking wicket that is Kevin O’Brien at the moment in his first over, he followed up with two more in his last to reduce Ireland to 93 for eight in their vain pursuit of the South Africans’ 159.

In between, Tabraiz Shamsi and part-timer Aiden Markram had taken four of the other wickets to fall and Ireland have just one more chance to work out a plan which would give them a consolation victory in the final match of the series, back at a sold-out Stormont tomorrow.

Not that the restricted capacity crowd of 500 had much to shout about. There was a deathly silence throughout most of the Ireland innings with the boundary cleared only four times two of them by Shane Getkate, who finished as Ireland’s top scorer with 24.

Ireland’s reliance on pace bowlers at the death is also proving costly with South Africa helping themselves to 36 in the last two overs, which ultimately dashed the home side’s hopes of a successful run chase.

Yet it had all started so promisingly with Paul Stirling taking two wickets with the first four balls of the match, captain Temba Bavuma and Janneman Malan both cutting straight to Josh Little at backward point and when Mark Adair struck in his first over, bowling Markram, South Africa were 24 for three.

And it didn’t get much better for them with Simi Singh trapping Quinton de Kock leg before with his first delivery and Little having Rassie van der Dussen caught behind after a surprisingly painful six from 15 balls by the former CIYMS professional.

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But it all went wrong for Ireland at the end of the 12th over when a diving Lorcan Tucker dropped David Miller off Little on 19. Seven overs later, he brought up his 50 from 27 balls and then finished with a flourish, hitting four sixes in Little’s last over.

Ireland bowled only seven overs of spin yet Stirling and Singh finished with figures of three for 38, and only two boundaries conceded between them. Maybe a braver call to give Stirling his final over or bring on Dockrell would have paid dividends, but we’ll never know.

When Ireland batted, Andrew Balbirnie was dropped second ball by Fortuin at short thirdman but he couldn’t cash in, skying left arm pacer Beuran Hendricks to the keeper just five balls later.

Paul Stirling, no doubt happy to be back at Stormont, hit a four and a six in the first three overs but added only seven singles before he holed out to the long deep mid-wicket boundary in front of the players’ tents.

When Harry Tector followed in the next over, from a leading edge to cover, it was effectively game over. And Ireland will have an extended break after this series concludes because Cricket Ireland announced yesterday that the Zimbabwe tour, due to start on August 6, has been delayed because of Covid protocols.

Sport NI informed them on Wednesday that as Zimbabwe was on the UK’s red list, the squad would have to quarantine in London for 10 days before flying into Belfast.

Cricket Ireland stressed that the tour has only been delayed, not postponed, and will now run from late August into September. A revised scheduled will be announced as soon as possible but there will still be three World Cup Super League games and five T20Is, although some of the games seem certain to be held in Dublin now, with Zimbabwe only a Category 2 country on the Republic’s Covid list.

The original schedule had five games at Stormont and three in Bready.

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