Malahide stalemate dashes Irish cup hopes
Ireland moved back to the top of the InterContinental Cup table last night but the Boys in Green saw their chance of winning the trophy for a fifth time all but disappear as the Netherlands easily held on for a draw at Malahide.
William Porterfield completed a record 16th Irish century and Kevin O'Brien made 58 before the home side set a target of 343 to win from 83 overs but despite a first couple of international wickets for spinner Simi Singh, the game petered out with the Netherlands on 186-4.
After four days of hard graft the only winner was a Malahide pitch that again proved too good for both attacks, just as it has proved a batting paradise for Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh in one-day matches in the past two seasons.
"The pitch got slower down the back end and that made it hard to take wickets when they shut up shop," said Porterfield, who made 108 from 140 balls despite the flare-up of an old back injury that prevented him from fielding after he had declared on 240-7.
"The new ball was key. Tim Murtagh got a wicket in the first over but we needed a couple more at that stage because once the ball got older and softer it was always going to difficult, and we were also a bit surprised they did not make more of an effort to go for the win."
A total of nine points - six for the first-innings lead and three for the draw - puts Ireland eight clear of Afghanistan, having played a game more.
The Afghans will take the title for a second time if they don't slip up against Hong Kong or the United Arab Emirates while, on this showing, Ireland are by no means certain to win their final game against Scotland.