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Stuart Poynter shows the way but Ireland face a fight in Zimbabwe tour

By Ian Callender

The wicket of captain Gary Wilson to the last ball of the day left Ireland in danger of conceding a first-innings lead in their four-day game against Zimbabwe A.

Ireland start the third day 100 behind with just four wickets left after too many batsmen got in but failed to take advantage of a superb batting track here at the Harare Sports Club.

The one glorious exception was Stuart Poynter, on his 25th birthday, who celebrated with his maiden first class century and highest score for Ireland.

He averaged 32 in three first class matches in 2013, batting in three different positions from six to nine, but with William Porterfield sitting out this game - ahead of Ireland's vital Intercontinental Cup clash against Namibia next weekend - the birthday boy was promoted to open and he has posed a big selection problem.

He faced 166 balls and hit 18 fours in his innings of 125 and watched opening partner Paul Stirling became the fourth player to score 5,000 runs for Ireland but the Middlesex batsman was out next ball, caught in the gully.

Andrew Balbirnie was unlucky when he was given out lbw to a sweep shot which had hit his glove but Niall O'Brien chased a wide one and Stuart Thompson also found first slip.

Wilson looked in top form but edged to the keeper, leaving only all-rounders today.

Ireland took only an hour and 40 runs to take the last four wickets in the morning with Craig Young and John Mooney finishing with four each.

Scores: Zimbabwe A 392 (M Waller 138, R Chakabva 104, PJ Moor 52; J Mooney 4-74, C Young 4-107) Ireland 292-6 (S Poynter 125, G Wilson 47, A Balbirnie 44, K O'Brien 22 not out, N O'Brien 21, P Stirling 20). Today 9am-4pm.

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