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Cricket: Porterfield’s fine form offers glimmer of hope

Ireland have still not won in Guyana and they are now just two days away from their first match in the World Twenty20.

Their fourth game in the Providence Stadium ended the same way as their previous three in the 2007 World Cup as New Zealand completed a 40-run victory in a warm-up game last night.

At least the game will not go into the official records as the Kiwis gave all but one of their 15-man squad a run-out and Ireland also chose Andrew White in their batting line-up but opted for George Dockrell to take his place when they bowled.

Alex Cusack, recovering from his shin splints, Gary Kidd and Nigel Jones were not involved either.

And after Daniel Vettori won the toss, it was Ireland who were in the field first with Boyd Rankin bearing the brunt of the early onslaught as Rob Nichol and Jesse Ryder teed off.

Rankin, worryingly, conceded 22 in his first two overs and did not return and although the reliable Trent Johnston was not so expensive early on, Ryder hit him for three successive sixes in his first comeback over.

Peter Connell was consistent — he conceded double figures in his each of his three overs — and with Kevin O’Brien’s first ball also disappearing for a maximum, the New Zealand openers brought up the 100 partnership in the ninth over.

That was the first bowled by George Dockrell and it was his spin partner, Paul Stirling who made the breakthrough in the next over, with his second ball, bowling Ryder for 64, an innings which lasted just 30 balls and included 10 boundaries, half of them sixes!

Dockrell, having been hit for a six in his first over, got in on the act thanks to a catch at deep square leg to dismiss Nichol.

With the Providence pitch renowned for taking spin, Dockrell and Stirling cashed in, the former adding the wickets of Scott Styris and Gareth Hopkins to his tally and between them the two teenagers conceded just 43 in their eight overs.

However, when the pacemen returned, Martin Guptill brought up his 50, Vettori, dropped first ball by John Mooney, of all people, off Stirling scored 18 off just 12 balls and 52 runs came off the last four overs. Andre Botha’s only over went for 15.

The Ireland reply never really got going with Paul Stirling playing an ugly attempted pull to his second ball and being bowled, Niall O’Brien was stumped in the third over, immediately after reverse sweeping Nathan McCullum for six, and despite a third wicket stand of 63 in eight overs between captain William Porterfield (34) and Gary Wilson (30), Ireland were always behind the clock and, as a result, lost wickets regularly.

Indeed the wickets fell too regularly for the umpires as they insisted on leaving the field with two balls still to be bowled and Connell still to bat.

Ireland have one more warm-up game, tomorrow afternoon when they meet Afghanistan, the other tournament qualifier.

Belfast Telegraph