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Match Report
Derek Scott

A great disappointment for Ireland in an "up-and-down" match. ECB won the toss and made 226 for eight in a steady fashion on a better pitch than the previous day at Malahide. The match today was at Rathmines.

Ireland looked beaten when they were 76-4 in 24 overs, then they revived and were winning at 192-4 in 42.4 overs. Now 35 were required in 45 balls with six wickets in hand. In 30 balls those six wickets fell for 18 runs leaving ECB winners by 16 runs and the three match series lost by Ireland by two nil.

Ireland were unchanged. ECB brought in E Wilson, fast bowler, and C Brown, off spin, for Howitt and Akhtar. The pitch was brown, bare and hard with small touches of green. ECB had no hesitation in batting when they won the toss. The day was warm with a sunny haze. It was Paul Mooney's 50th cap since his debut in 1998 and his 50 came out of a possible 81 matches.

Fours were the order of the day in the first six overs bowled by Paul Mooney and Neely. Adshead got most of the strike and hit six of the seven fours in those six overs. These included three in Neely's third and last over, an off drive, a pull and a loft over the bowler's head. Adshead repeated the latter stroke in Mooney's next over and, when John Mooney came on, he played a slashed drive behind point. 50 came up in over nine. Adshead took his ninth and last four off John Mooney before brother Paul got him in the 10th over. A beamer on the offside was called a no-ball and, next ball, Adshead drove low to Neely at mid-on.

Adshead's 38 came from nine fours and a two in 32 balls faced. 56-1-38. Slips were gone when Boroughs arrived. White replaced Paul Mooney, seven overs for 29, and his first ball removed the newcomer. He was lbw to a well pitched up ball. 66-2-1. Chapman, who bats right-handed and bowls left, arrived and hit two fours before he, too, was lbw giving John Mooney his first international wicket. This was John Mooney's fifth cap and he had not bowled hitherto but was the best bowler, by far, in the recently completed Interprovincial Tournament. Mooney was in his sixth inexpensive over when Chapman stepped in front. 78-3-11.

The next partnership brought two left-handers together when Mole joined opening bat Hughes. This pair put on 36 in just under 10 overs. The 20 overs score was 86 and 100 came up in the 22nd over when Mole hit John Mooney for two fours. Until this over Mooney had bowled seven overs for 17 runs. He now had eight overs for 25 and was replaced by McCallan after a very good first International bowling stint. The half way, 25 overs, score was 110. Then, in over 28, Mole became the third successive lbw victim. He did not spot McCallan's arm ball. 114-4-17.

Hall, who had made 73 at Malahide, joined Hughes who was now only 32 out of 114. This pair raised the tempo and put on 46 in one ball under 11 overs. Five fours were hit. White bowled out his 10 overs for 45. Botha replaced him for a very belated first bowl. Hughes eventually reached 50 in Botha's first over, the 35th, when the score was 143. Hughes added five more runs, two of them through the wicket-keeper's gloves, and was then bowled hitting across the line in Botha's third over, the 39th. 160-5-55. Hughes had faced 109 balls with six fours and was the bedrock of the innings. Foster came in and after 40 overs the score was 166. In the last 10 overs ECB made exactly 60 and lost three more wickets.

After 42 overs McCallan was bowled out, having conceded 22 runs. Neely replaced him but, for some obscure reason, Botha was taken off. Paul Money was given two overs and then Botha was restored. Neely's first ball, the 44th over, got Foster. He pulled to square leg where Bray ran in, dived, and caught him. 179-6-10. Humble came in and hit fours in the 46th, 47th and 48th overs, 200 coming up when Neely gave up 12 runs in the 47th over. In Neely's next over Humble hit a four to wide mid-wicket. Next ball he hit to short mid-wicket. Hall called a run and White's throw beat Hall to the bowler when Humble refused to run. 213-7-39.

Humble was bowled by Botha on the last ball of the 49th over when he missed trying a leg hit. 221-8-24. Neely bowled the last over to Brown and Wilson which only cost five runs.

On this pitch 226 did not look a total out of reach. The six bowlers used all took wickets. Five of them took one wicket each and Botha took two. McCallan's economy rate was by far the best, 22 runs in 10 overs. Next best was John Mooney's 25 runs in eight overs. Botha, perhaps, should have been given more than six overs and took two for 35. The fielding was good on a very fast outfield at Rathmines. The pitches are on a plateau with a fall on all sides, which accounts for 25 fours in the innings.

Ireland must have felt that 227 to win was well within reach when they started to bat at 3 p.m. 90 minutes later they could not have been so sure at 76 for four. A further 80 minutes later, at 192 for four, with eight overs left confidence must have been restored only to be blown away in the next 10 minutes. Bray had Armstrong with him as an opening partner. The latter was promoted from number nine the previous day and it was hoped he would be a "pinch hitter". Wilson, pretty quick, and Sharp, always accurate, took up the bowling. Wilson bowled Bray in his second over. Bray appeared to play no stroke, the ball came back, and bowled him off his pads. 7-1-4. Botha came next and was quickly into his stride square cutting two fours and driving wide of mid-on for another. Then Armstrong snicked Sharp to the only slip in the 10th over. 36-2-10.

O'Brien fell in Sharp's next over pushing a ball to cover point with no foot movement whatsoever. 44-3-2. The question around the round was when, if ever, were Ireland's first four batsmen all left-handed? Gillespie was next and started slowly as usual. Botha kept the scoreboard moving with two more fours. Humble, at medium pace, replaced Wilson and 50 was up in over 15. Humble bowled four overs and Foster, another medium pacer, replaced him. This led to Botha's downfall in over 21. Botha pulled a ball directly to the mid-wicket boundary fielder. 76-4-41. This was a big loss as Botha had hit six fours in his 41, scored from 55 balls.

Now came McCallan to join Gillespie, who was 13 off 30 balls. Sharp went off after his 10 overs, two for 28, to be replaced by off-spinner Brown. Foster bowled only four overs before giving way to slow left armer Chapman. The run rate increased. The 20 overs score was 73 but 100 was up in over 26 when Gillespie hit Brown for six over wide long on. He got a four in much the same place in Chapman's first over. Foster replaced Brown, five overs for 32, and Chapman had two maidens in his first three overs.

McCallan hit two fours off Foster and the 30 overs score was 128. So 99 were needed in 20 overs and the four runs per over rate to date had to lift to five. Only 24 runs came in the next six overs. Then the rate went up. Eight came in Chapman's over, the 37th, which also brought Gillespie's 50 from 77 balls. The 39th over was Chapman's seventh. In it Gillespie hit a six into the gardens at mid-wicket and the ball was lost. Wilson and Humble returned. The 40 overs score was 177 so now 50 were needed in 10 overs, the five per over rate had been achieved off the last 10 overs.

Seven came in over 41, including a four to Gillespie. The stand was broken by Humble in over 43. Gillespie hit Humble for four to extra cover. At that point only 35 were needed from 46 balls. There was no need for heroics. Then, next ball, Gillespie hit out wildly at a leg stump ball and was bowled. 192-5-73. Gillespie had played very well. In 94 balls he had hit two sixes and six fours. His stand with McCallan put on 116 runs in 22 overs, but it was a pity that he had got out just when he did.

Then came the first real tragedy which led to defeat. Joyce took a single and McCallan faced the last ball of the over in which Gillespie got out. Humble bowled a very wide ball which McCallan waved at and was caught at the wicket for 43, scored off 68 balls with four fours. 193-6-43. It was now up to Joyce, to White who joined him, and to the Mooney brothers and Neely to score 34 runs from 42 balls. Between them they scored 17 from 26 balls and the match was lost by 16 runs.

Wilson yorked White at 194 and, still on 194, wicket-keeper Mole brought off a splendid two-handed diving catch to dismiss Joyce off Humble's bowling. The Mooney brothers tried to retrieve the situation. John Mooney hit his first ball for three and next over, bowled by Wilson, brother Paul snicked two fours. 20 were now required in four overs. Paul Mooney then hit Humble, at some speed, to mid-off. He had no chance of beating Hall's direct hit throw. 209-9-10. Next over John Mooney played a dreadful pull shot, was bowled by Wilson, and all was over. A sorry tale!

Foster manoeuvered his six bowlers very well. Sharp and two for 28 in 10 overs to follow his four for 16 the previous day. Humble had three for 37 in eight overs and newcomer Wilson, the fastest of the bowlers, had three for 39 in 9.2 overs. It must be said that ECB bowled and fielded better than Ireland and never gave up when they looked beaten.

Rathmines, Dublin