Saturday 17 March 2018

Cricket: White knock keeps Ireland on course

Andrew White. Photo: Getty Images
Andrew White. Photo: Getty Images

Gerard Hughes

ANDREW WHITE continued his love affair with the Intercontinental Cup in Harare yesterday, scoring 97 not out to leave Ireland well-placed on 340-6 after the opening day against Zimbabwe.

If White scores three more this morning he will have his fourth century in the competition, but the Belfast schoolteacher's hopes of playing in a fourth successive final rest on how well his colleagues bowl over the next three days.

The three-time champions need to beat Zimbabwe on first innings and overall to stay in the Cup and William Porterfield had little hesitation in choosing to bat first on what appears a true surface.

The Ireland skipper backed up his judgment with seven boundaries in a solid 51 from 115 balls, including the day's only six.

But Porterfield lost three partners before lunch -- Paul Stirling and Niall O'Brien, who both charged off at better than a run a ball only to fall in their teens, and Andre Botha for seven. All three were caught by Zimbabwe captain Vusi Sibanda.

The performance of the day came from Kevin O'Brien, who rattled off a sparkling 71 from 92 balls, with 10 fours.

Ireland looked a little shaky on 172-5 when the younger O'Brien was caught behind but first Gary Wilson, with 47, then John Mooney, unbeaten on 25, gave White excellent support.

Wilson has flourished in the final weeks of the European season, scoring maiden centuries for both Ireland and Surrey, and had laid the foundations for another big score when he also nicked to the keeper.

If White and Mooney can take the total past 400, the objective of first- innings points will be within their grasp but whether Ireland have enough time and firepower to win outright is another matter.

Irish Independent

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