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Balbirnie fires Ireland 'A' to victory


Phil Simmons. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Phil Simmons. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Phil Simmons. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

ANDREW BALBIRNIE scored an undefeated 108 as Ireland 'A' romped to an emphatic 10-wicket win against Kalutara in Colombo.

Balbirnie shared an unbroken opening stand of 185 with Saturday's centurion Chris Dougherty (69*), as Ireland reached their target with more than half of their overs to spare.

The Middlesex player was in imperious form striking five sixes – the last of which took him to his hundred. He also stroked 11 fours, taking just 81 deliveries for his 108.

Opening partner Dougherty scored at exactly a run a ball, hitting 10 fours and a six in his innings of 69 as the beleaguered Kalutara bowlers were put to the sword. Earlier Ireland's bowlers all stuck to their task well, restricting Kalutara to a well below par 181 at the historic Colts Cricket Club. Ireland rested opening bowler Phil Eaglestone, with Eddie Richardson and Stuart Thompson sharing the new ball duties.

Ireland coach Phil Simmons was pleased with the win: "It's good that the batsmen are taking their chances when they get to the middle. They know 20's and 30's don't win games, but hundreds do. That's the most pleasing thing for me – we've scored two hundreds in two days, and there have been big partnerships in the games.

"Andrew Balbirnie played well today and was positive from the start. He put away the loose deliveries particularly well and didn't let the bowlers settle. He and Chris Dougherty are a good combination at the top of the order.

"The bowlers were good but they bowled too many wides (22), so that's something for them to work on. It's been another good work-out for the team and we'll look to finish the tour on a winning note with the two Twenty20 contests on Tuesday."

Tickets are available for the RSA Insurance ODI Series between Ireland and Sri Lanka on May 6 and 8 – visit www.cricketireland.ie