Saturday 15 December 2018

Rankin on song as Ireland take command

Boyd Rankin was on form for Ireland
Boyd Rankin was on form for Ireland Sportsdesk

Boyd Rankin grabbed four wickets as Ireland bounced back to overpower Scotland on the second day of their clash in Dubai but a win against their oldest rivals is now most unlikely to be enough to deliver a fifth InterContinental Cup to the defending champions.

The Boys in Green had to gain a first-innings lead to keep alive the slimmest of title hopes and after meeting early resistance easily managed to defend a modest 251, with Kevin O'Brien weighing in with three victims plus a couple of catches as Scotland were shot out for 141.

A half-century from Gary Wilson - before he ran himself out - helped Ireland to 186-5 at the close and a lead of 296 but the news from down the road in Abu Dhabi was not good as Afghanistan reduced the United Arab Emirates to 100-5 at stumps, after declaring on 510-9.

Only if the Afghans somehow lose, or fail to gain first-innings points, can Ireland top the eight-team table but the hopelessness of the situation did not prevent the champions producing a disciplined and moral-boosting performance in the field after Rankin had broken an opening stand of 55.

O'Brien only bowled five overs but that was enough to knock three holes in the top order while Rankin, such an important member of the attack when he is fit, made sure there was no recovery and the persistent Tim Murtagh took 2-24 from an economical 17 overs.

"It's a pretty good pitch just maybe a bit slow," Rankin said. "Peter Chase and myself found a bit of extra bounce but we weren't expecting them to collapse like that from the start they got. We just stuck at it and all the bowlers chipped in."

Skipper William Porterfield may already have sufficient runs on the board but another 60-70, with Simi Singh unbeaten on 34 overnight, should ensure that the Associate neighbours do not gain bragging rights over the newly-elevated Test team - a small compensation for missing out on the main prize.

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