Sunday 24 September 2017

Sorensen batters Scots as Ireland seal final place

CRICKET

MAX SORENSEN turned on the power for Ireland at Clontarf to send shambolic Scotland hurtling towards an innings defeat in the InterContinental Cup.

The Hills paceman ripped through the visitors' top order, taking four wickets in his opening blitz after Ireland had gained an imposing first-innings lead of 212.

An eighth-wicket partnership of 79 between Majid Haq and Safyaan Sharif helped Scotland to 143-8 at stumps and avoided the embarrassment of losing inside three days but only the weather can prevent Ireland from wrapping up a fifth win from seven IC Cup qualifying games.

The capture of first-innings points early yesterday confirmed an IC Cup final against Afghanistan in December – a mouth-watering prospect in Dubai between three-time winners Ireland and the current holders.

If a clash between the two best non-Test match-playing sides over five days isn't enough to get fans booking a winter break in the sun, it will also be Trent Johnston's final game for Ireland.

Scotland may have hoped the impending retirement of Johnston and the defection to England ranks of Boyd Rankin would change the Celtic balance of power but the past week has been a rude dose of reality.

Twice beaten in one-day contests, their batting was again blown away by Ireland's best of the rest in this four-day game: if 61-6 in the first innings wasn't bad enough, 41-6 second time around was worse.

Nor was it a weak Scotland line-up, five of the top six played in the World Cup qualifiers, whereas Ireland's much-changed ranks managed a total of 350, with impressive glimpses from the new generation of Andy Balbirnie, Stuart Poynter and Andy McBrine.

Paul Stirling, already a seasoned hand at 23, carried the home side to a first-innings lead before he fell for 65, Merrion skipper John Anderson consolidated with 56 and Kevin O'Brien made 45.

Trailing by 212, the game was already beyond Scotland but surely pride dictates a better showing than such a woeful second-innings response.

Irish Independent

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