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Saturday 25 March 2017

Bray has work cut out after Papuan shock

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IRELAND had to settle for third place in the U-19 World Cup qualifying tournament after losing their final game to Papua New Guinea by five wickets at Eglinton yesterday.

Again, it was the batting that let down Ireland, with no one bettering Adam Coughlan's 29 as the hosts and pre-tournament favourites were bowled out for 155 after choosing to bat.

Skipper George Dockrell and North County all-rounder Shane Getkate both got starts, but were unable to build on them in the way they had in steering Ireland to qualification against Namibia on Monday.

Any thought of defending such a small total quickly disappeared as PNG raced to 100 in only 15 overs. Even the usually parsimonious Dockrell conceded 40 from his nine overs and claimed just one wicket.

Ireland looked like a team playing their fifth consecutive day of cricket as the Papuans reached their target with 20.5 overs to spare, and coach Jeremy Bray has a lot of work ahead of him before next July's finals in Queensland if his side are to match the 10th place overall finish of their predecessors.

Scotland beat Vanuatu to win the tournament from Nepal, with Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Namibia also joining Ireland and the 10 Test teams in the finals.

England aim for No 1 spot

Assuming the match survives the riots and begins as scheduled at 11.0 today, England can become the world's No 1 Test team if they beat India at Edgbaston.

The pitch looks tempting for the pace bowlers, being green-tinged enough for MS Dhoni to drop a strong hint that India, in a rare move for a country with such a proud spin heritage, could play four pace bowlers.

If that transpires, any spinning duties will be left to bit-part tweakers such as Suresh Raina and Virender Sehwag, though Raina may be replaced by Virat Kohli.

It seems unthinkable that Dhoni will go into the match without specialist leg-spinner Amit Mishra, but if he does play four seamers there is the risk the captain could be banned for a game or two, as he has already been warned for slow over-rates.

One of the reasons Munaf Patel has yet to feature in the series is that he takes too long to bowl an over. If India opt for an all-pace quartet, Munaf will have to play unless they pick RP Singh, who's due in from India this morning.

Irish Independent

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