Hat-trick of LBWs for Umar Bhatti - only the seventh in first-class cricket history - can't prevent Canada defeat

Ireland wrapped up the final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup inside two days at Grace Road , Leicester today (Wednesday) with a clinical display, beating Canada by an innings and 115 runs.

It means the cup will be returning for another spell with the Irish Cricket Union as Trent Johnston's men retain the title they first won in Namibia late in 2005.

In the end, Canada was just not up to the challenge that Ireland 's bowling presented. The seamers did most of the damage with Johnston, Langford-Smith and Kevin O'Brien all making inroads, with off-spinner Kyle McCallan coming on to claim five late scalps.

In the end, Canada was dismissed for 145 in its second innings to go with just 92 on the first day, still some 115 runs behind Ireland 's first innings total of 352. Johnston collected the cup from chairman of the European Cricket Council and former secretary of the Marylebone Cricket Club Roger Knight.

The man of the match award was won by opening batsman Jeremy Bray, whose magnificent knock of 146 on the first day paved the way for his side's success.

This morning Ireland resumed at 250-3, some 158 runs ahead after an almost perfect day for the defending champion. But Canada bowled very well, particularly when the new ball was taken, and cleaned up the remaining seven wickets for just 102 runs.

Umar Bhatti was the hero, taking 5-85, including a remarkable hat-trick of LBWs, only the seventh time in history that a bowler has achieved that feat in first-class cricket. Indeed, with his in-swinging deliveries the left-arm medium pacer took four LBWs in five deliveries (across two overs) reducing Ireland from 297-3 to 303-7.

It was just the second hat-trick in ICC Intercontinental Cup history. The Netherlands ' Mohammad Kashif managed it against Canada in Pretoria last December.

The only batsman to hold up the Canadians this morning was Eoin Morgan, who batted beautifully for 84. The Middlesex left-hander's was the tenth wicket to fall, just 16 short of what would have been his second century in three days, having hit three figures for his county in a Friends Provident Trophy match against Essex at Chelmsford on Sunday.

Despite the large lead that had been established, Ireland 's bowlers were in no mood to give Canada any chance to settle and took wickets at regular intervals throughout the afternoon. The Canadian batsmen looked more positive than they had in the first innings but too many loose shots, coupled with good Irish bowling in swinging conditions, meant no one put up any significant resistance.

With Ireland now ranked tenth in the LG ICC ODI Championship following the successes of the ICC Cricket World Cup and having won the ICC Intercontinental Cup two years in succession, there is a real buoyancy and dynamism about cricket in that country.

The new format in the ICC Intercontinental Cup means sides play a minimum of three four-day matches in this tournament. This increases to seven four-day matches in 2007 and 2008 when the event will be a full round-robin and global format.

That compares to a minimum of just two three-day matches per year under the previous structure which, until the semi-finals, was regionally based rather than global.

The ICC Intercontinental Cup began in 2004 to give the leading players from Associate sides the chance to improve by exposing them to a longer form of the game.

 

Hat-tricks of LBWs in first-class cricket

Horace Fisher (for Yorkshire v Somerset , Sheffield , 1932)

Jack Flabell (for Worcestershire v Lancashire, Manchester , 1963

Mike Procter (for Gloucestershire v Essex, Westcliffe,1972 and v Yorkshire, Cheltenham , 1979)

Jack Ikin (for Griqualand West v Orange Free State, 1973-74)

Mark Ilott (for Essex v Northamptonshire, Luton , 1995)

Umar Bhatti (for Canada v Ireland , Leicester , 2007)