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Ireland ever so close to passing their first big test


By Ian Callendar

Ireland finished the third day of their Intercontinental Cup game at Malahide needing just one wicket to make the perfect start in their bid to become the 11th Test playing nation.

With the weather forecast much improved, at least for the first half of the day, Ireland should have plenty of time to complete a deserved victory against UAE who are still 28 runs away from forcing their hosts to bat for a second time.

It was the blameless Malahide surface which denied Ireland a three-day win, as much as the plucky visiting batsmen who have so far batted 100 overs in their second innings.

Indeed, the Irish bowlers did very well to take nine wickets on a pitch which offered neither seam movement nor turn.

Only when Craig Young cranked up the heat with the second new ball were the batsmen in any serious trouble and his two wickets in five balls gave Ireland an extra half hour at the scheduled close to try and take the remaining three wickets.

Young picked up his fourth of the innings and eighth of the match in the second over of overtime and Paul Stirling snared another with two overs remaining, but the last pair held out and everyone must return today for what Ireland hope will be only one ball.

They certainly wasted no time in wrapping up the first innings. After surviving for 13 overs the previous evening, the ninth wicket partnership lasted only another 12 balls before Young ended the resistance of Shaiman Anwar, caught at cover, and four balls later William Porterfield took his 100th catch for Ireland, over his shoulder at cover.

The Ireland bowlers may have run into an unhelpful pitch but at least they didn't leak runs in the same manner as the first innings. Of those 213 runs, 146 came in boundaries, the majority from short balls.

They appeared to have learned their lesson and second time around, although UAE have so far hit 38 fours, the majority were through the off side.

Four of them came in one over from George Dockrell, his last with the old ball, and three more in the space of five balls from Young as he tired late on.

Dockrell, though, was Porterfield's go-to man throughout the day, his 34 overs twice as many as anyone else and the batsmen treated him with respect, especially after he removed both openers in his first four overs.

Tim Murtagh took a wicket, finding the edge with the second new ball.

John Mooney and Kevin O'Brien were unthreatening, exposing Ireland's bowling limitations, and Stirling, as the second spinner, was pressed into 17 overs which was about 10 more than he deserved but the late wicket made them worthwhile.

With a first innings lead of 279, runs were never going to matter as long as the wickets kept falling. It's nine down and one to go.

Belfast Telegraph


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