Sunday 17 December 2017

Cricket: Johnston defies pitch to hit milestone

David Townsend In UAE

TRENT JOHNSTON became the fourth Ireland bowler to take 250 wickets before the InterContinental Cup match with the United Arab Emirates fizzled out into a predictable draw.

Johnston bowled Fayyaz Ahmed to reach the landmark in his 178th international and also claimed the last two wickets to fall to return superb figures of 4-62 as the UAE were dismissed for 360.

The 39-year-old former captain is now only four behind long-time colleague Kyle McCallan, who retired with 256 victims, although Jimmy Boucher (307) and Dermott Monteith (326) will probably remain beyond his reach.

"That thing was one of the three flattest pitches I've bowled on in 10 years of playing 'IC Cup' games," Johnston said. "If we didn't have the two massive World Cup qualifiers next week we would have probably tried to bowl them out a second time but we weren't going to risk injuries, and my body is going to thank me for that."

Instead, the rest of the day was used for batting practice and William Porterfield took the chance to compile his ninth international century before mercifully declaring on 188-3 to end the match.

The nine points gained for a first-innings victory in a drawn match move Ireland on to 76 points at the top of the IC Cup qualifying table, with second-placed Afghanistan, who beat Scotland by an innings earlier in the week, their most likely opponents in the final later this year.

Irish Independent

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