Sunday 21 January 2018

Cricket: Porterfield sinks Dutch ahead of T20 qualifiers

WILLIAM PORTERFIELD refused to take all the credit after his 75 not out led Ireland to a six-wicket victory over the Netherlands with two balls to spare in a World T20 qualifiers warm-up match in Abu Dhabi.

"It was a really good all-round performance, especially from the bowlers to restrict them to 139-5 on such a fast-scoring ground," said the Ireland captain.

"Alex Cusack (2-16) went for four an over, Tim Murtagh bowled well up front and it was good to see us applying pressure even when we weren't taking wickets."

Ireland's chase suffered an early blow when Paul Stirling departed for a duck in the first over, but Porterfield found a good ally in Niall O'Brien, who contributed 34 to a second-wicket partnership of 70.

With seven required from the final over, Porterfield settled Irish nerves with his second six over mid-wicket before punching the winning runs down the ground.

Ireland's first game in the tournament proper is against Namibia on Friday. Six of the 16 non-Test-playing countries taking part will progress to the World T20 finals in Bangladesh in March.

Elsewhere, George Bailey and Mitchell Johnson were both, as anticipated, named in Australia's 12-man squad for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.

Bailey, uncapped at Test level at the age of 31, has shown remarkable improvement as a limited-overs batsman in the past year, and scored especially heavily in Australia's last two one-day international series, in England and India.

Left-arm fast bowler Johnson, overlooked for Australia's 3-0 Ashes defeat in England during the summer, has appeared back to his best in those same two away ODI series.

Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar is set for an emotional farewell to international cricket when he plays his 200th and final Test against West Indies in his home city of Mumbai this week.

A nation that has become wedded to watching Tendulkar flay opposition attacks around cricket fields for 24 years is preparing to celebrate a history-breaking career.

The iconic batsman's goodbye is almost certain to overshadow everything else that happens during the Test – India need only a draw to win the two-match series – and few in the cricket-mad nation appear prepared to miss it.

A website to sell tickets this week immediately crashed amid the rush of online traffic and when fans were able to confirm their place inside the Wankhede Stadium all five days were sold out inside 15 hours.

India will hold its breath as one when Tendulkar does appear to bat under his familiar dark blue helmet for the last time.

Irish Independent

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