Sunday 20 August 2017

Porterfield cuts loose to seal series

Cricket

WILLIAM PORTERFIELD led Ireland to a crushing eight-wicket victory over Namibia in Belfast yesterday with inspired moments of captaincy and a lively innings of 45 at the top of the order.

The skipper's bowling changes all seemed to work as Namibia were shot out for 175 and he then killed off the contest with a flurry of early boundaries to ensure back-to-back wins for the home side in the two-match series.

Porterfield got off the mark with a six over extra cover and added another maximum and six fours before he skied a catch to mid-off and left the stage for Alex Cusack and Niall O'Brien to ease Ireland home with 46 balls to spare.

Cusack began quietly but went on to match Porterfield's boundary count and had the game's top score of 59 not out when O'Brien nudged the winning single. The third-wicket pair added an unbeaten 84 from 13 overs.

After morning rain had reduced the game to 38 overs per side, another dark cloud for Ireland saw Trent Johnston injure a knee during the warm-up.

In the veteran's absence, John Mooney was handed the new ball alongside Boyd Rankin.

While he is vastly improved with bat and ball, Mooney is not an opening bowler and Ireland coach Phil Simmons will be concerned at his lack of reserves in the pace department ahead of next week's testing triangular tournament against Scotland and Sri Lanka in Edinburgh.

Having opted to bat, the Africans surprised their hosts again by promoting Louis van der Westhuizen to No 4, and the big-hitting tailender took up where he left off on Monday night.

Kevin O'Brien was struck for successive straight sixes but after smashing 31 from his first 10 balls, Van der Westhuizen stalled against the spin of Paul Stirling and then offered a return catch to Rankin.

Teenage spinner George Dockrell then applied his customary stranglehold to the opposition's advance with two wickets -- both stumped by Gary Wilson -- in a tidy six-over spell that conceded 26 runs.

Dockrell was announced yesterday as the captain of Ireland's U-19 side that will attempt to qualify for next year's World Cup later this month. The 10-nation qualifying tournament will be held in Dublin and Derry, beginning on July 28.

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Irish Independent

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