Balbirnie helps Irish dominate opening day with maiden century
Andy Balbirnie scored his maiden first-class century at Malahide yesterday and was 130 not out at stumps as Ireland dominated the opening exchanges of their four-day InterContinental Cup clash with the Netherlands.
The visiting side's decision to field first backfired as William Porterfield and John Anderson made strong half-centuries and with a solid base of 292-2, the Boys in Green will look to build quickly before attempting to dismiss their opponents twice on a pitch that mostly played well.
Balbirnie, who had previously made only two fifties in red-ball cricket, shared a second-wicket partnership of 67 with Porterfield, before his skipper was caught at second slip for 60, and added an unbeaten 150 with Anderson who will resume on 57 not out.
The Pembroke man went to 99 with his only six, struck wide of mid-on, and scampered a single to reach three figures from 176 balls, with 13 fours. He had added a further three boundaries by the close after being dropped on 109.
"I've not played a lot of first-class stuff and it was an ambition of mine to get a century," Balbirnie said. "I'm not hiding it - I'm delighted, and we've set the game up well. The plan is to bat just the once and the day couldn't have gone much better."
The only relative failure among a feast of runs was Ed Joyce but the veteran still managed 43 from 65 balls, stroking six boundaries in an opening stand of 75 with Porterfield. Ireland, who decided against blooding 20-year-old opener Jack Tector, need a maximum 20-point victory to keep on Afghanistan's heels, whom they trail by just one point at the top of the IC Cup table.