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Match Report
Emmet Riordan

Ravi Rampaul, today's debutant, is Ireland's overseas player for the Friends Provident Trophy for 2008. He is a Trinidadian who has played One Day Cricket for the West Indians.

Leicestershire's 39-run win over Ireland here in yesterday's Friends Provident Trophy match did very little to lift the pall of gloom around this most sporting of cities as the locals got their heads around the fact their soccer club will play in the third flight of the English game for the first time in their 124-year history. And with the Tigers losing at Newcastle and leaving the distinct possibility of no Heineken Cup rugby at Welford Road next season, the thought of their cricketers going down to Ireland would have been too much to bear.

In the end, Leicestershire's raggle-taggle bunch of South African blow-ins made sure Ireland coach Phil Simmons wasn't going to have a successful return to the ground he graced back in the 1990s. One of these, 35-year-old former test player Hylton Ackerman did most of the damage, scoring his third century of the season as the Foxes posted 251 off their 50 overs on a mizzly, overcast day in the English Midlands. The Cape Town native shared a first-wicket stand of 103 with young opener Tom New, before putting on 87 with Jim Allenby as the home side looked set to post something close to 300.

Some fine Ireland bowling at the death pared that back somewhat, with spinner Kyle McCallan superb yet again, taking a wicket and conceding just 38 runs from his 10 overs. Ireland's chances of making it a hat-trick of disasters for Leicester sporting teams was scuppered after they lost their first five wickets for 68 runs. A brilliant six-wicket stand of 109 between Andy White and Gary Wilson breathed life back into Ireland's innings with Wilson showing the benefit of his time at Surrey to record his second half-century on his 16th appearance. A sharp piece of work behind the stumps from Paul Nixon off the bowling of Allenby ended Wilson's innings on 58 with the score on 177.

White also went past the half-century mark, his fifth at international level, but once he became one of Allenby's four victims after making 52, the game was up as Ireland were bowled out for 212 in the 48th over. It was another encouraging performance from Simmons young side, who had looked lively in the field in the early part of the day.

After William Porterfield had won his second straight toss, new overseas signing Ravi Rampaul was handed the new ball on his Ireland debut. He showed some early promise, comprehensively beating Ackerman with the last ball of his second over. The West Indies player was unlucky not to pick up his first scalp in the next over, when Ackerman got an inside age that went past wicketkeeper Wilson to the boundary. He got another life on 20, when Paul Stirling failed to hold onto a tough chance at point, again off Rampaul.

Ackerman started to move through the gears alongside fellow opener New as the Foxes went past 50 in the 12th over, before Ackerman brought up his own half-century off 70 balls, hitting eight fours and one big six off Thinus Fourie. Ireland finally made the breakthrough in the 25th over when McCallan got through New's guard to bowl him for 31. Allenby, a cousin of golfer Robert, looked positive from the start and at one stage he and Ackerman looked like pushing Leicestershire towards a score of 300. Ackerman brought up his century off 122 deliveries, hitting 12 boundaries and one six, only to be bowled soon after by Kevin O'Brien after adding just three more runs.

Porterfield excelled in the field yet again, running out the dangerous Boeta Dippenaar for 20 and taking a fine catch to get rid of Nixon and help Fourie take two late wickets, including Allenby for 62. Rampaul earned a just reward for a fine bowling performance with the wicket of Dillan du Preez with the last ball of his 10 overs.