Determined Dutch hold up Ireland despite Rankin 5-wicket haul
An excellent fightback by the Netherlands middle order stalled Ireland's progress in Thursday's penultimate day's play in the Intercontinental Cup clash at Malahide.
The home side will still take a sizeable 269- run lead with six second innings wickets in hand into the final three sessions tomorrow but a record-breaking 7th wicket stand between Max O'Dowd and Logan van Beek has certainly left William Porterfield's team with work to do if they are to claim the win.
That pair added an invaluable 160 after Ben Cooper was out for 82 at the start of the morning's play; the latter having added just a single to his overnight score before edging Tim Murtagh to Andrew Balbirnie at second slip.
The Irish struggled to break through after that however with van Beek making 76 (12 fours, 1 six) while O'Dowd posted a superb maiden century - his 105 including 16 fours and a six from just 151 balls.
Both men were to finally fall to the impressive Rankin, whose figures of 5 for 49 were the Warwickshire pace bowler's first five-wicket haul for Ireland since 2008 in the same competition against Namibia.
Tim Murtagh and Jacob Mulder both captured two wickets apiece as The Netherlands were eventually dismissed for 375 - the lead just 102 after the late Dutch resistance.
Ed Joyce went early in the second innings, however a half century from Andrew Balbirnie and an unbeaten 89 from skipper Porterfield saw the pair share a second wicket stand of 113 as Ireland played positively.
It was the unlikely figure of stand-in Dutch skipper Wesley Barresi - deputising for Peter Borren who didn't take the field with an injured finger - who broke the stand as he bowled first innings double centurion Balbirnie for exactly 50.
The occasional bowler then bowled Gary Wilson around his legs and with John Anderson going in between, the Dutch spirits were high.
Skipper William Porterfield remained positive and with the dangerous Kevin O'Brien in the middle, Ireland now head into the final morning with a very healthy advantage having closed on 167-4.
Porterfield ended the day on 89 not out from 120 balls (10 fours, 1 six), and will have his sights on his 16th century for Ireland tomorrow morning, followed by quick runs to set up a tempting declaration.
Time will obviously be at a premium in the dash for maximum points given the excellence of the Malahide track, with the Irish expected to set the Dutch a target of around 330-350.
ICC Intercontinental Cup (Day 3 of 4)
Ireland 477-6 declared and 167-4 (41 overs; W Porterfield 89*, A Balbirnie 50, W Baresi 2-20)
Netherlands 375 all out (113.5 overs, M O'Dowd 105, B Cooper 82, L van Beek 76, B Rankin 5-49, T Murtagh 2-52, J Mulder 2-96)