Another fine half-century from skipper William Porterfield wasn't enough to earn Ireland a second Friends Provident Trophy victory in three days as Leicestershire completed an easy 81-run win at Stormont yesterday. Chasing a target of 246 for victory, and having reached 103-2 in the 25th over, Ireland were well set to add Foxes to Friday's victory over Warwickshire. But as the bells rang out from St Molua's Church, Philip Simmons side decided to settle down for a Sunday snooze, losing their last eight wickets for just 61 runs.
Simmons didn't hide his frustration afterwards, especially after how his young side had focused for the full length of the win just two days previously. "We played the full 100 overs on Friday, but today we only played for 40 or 50," said Simmons. "The disappointing thing is we didn't read the game and know how to play it after the start we made. We started the way we wanted to, but I don't think our batsmen assessed the game properly" he added.
After playing the anchor role on Friday, Porterfield yesterday went for the jugular from the start on a cracking batting track. He enjoyed some early fortune, James Allenby dropping a doddle of a catch at cover off Ryan Cummins in the second over when he had made just five. Opening partner Reinhardt Strydom went for eight after the pair had put on 42, while 17-year-old Stirling played a poor shot to perish for four, chipping Nadeem Malik to Boeta Dippenaar at mid-on.
In partnership with Alex Cusack, Porterfield started to time the ball beautifully, bringing up his 50 off 59 balls with seven boundaries, his fourth half-century in his last seven matches in this competition. Looking well set for a match-defining score, Porterfield became the first of left-arm spinner Claude Henderson's four victims, lobbing one to Allenby, who didn't make the same mistake twice. Cricket's most infamous jinx did Ireland no favours, as two wickets fell on Nelson, to reduce the home side to 111 for five. Gary Wilson was brilliantly caught by wicket-keeper Paul Nixon off Henderson for five, before Cusack was run out after some sharp work by Dippenaar for 23. As the wickets continued to fall, only Kyle McCallan's unbeaten 26 helped Ireland pass the 150-mark, as Leicestershire wrapped up the game in the 43rd over.
Ravi Rampaul had earlier got Ireland off to a dream start, bowling Tom New with the first delivery of the match after Porterfield won the toss and put the visitors in. Philip Eaglestone's first three overs went for 18 runs, but he did account for the dangerous Allenby after he made 18 off 20 balls. In truth it was a poor shot more than a good ball, Allenby pulling it to mid-wicket where McCallan took a fine low catch to reduce Leicestershire to 25 for 2. Hylton Ackerman, who made a century in the victory at Grace Road, was joined by fellow South African Test player Dippenaar and they set about restoring the innings.
Dippenaar played the steady hand, taking 104 balls to make his half-century as Ackerman hit eight boundaries while bringing up his 50 off 65 deliveries. McCallan broke the stand after the partnership had notched up 80, turning one to bowl Ackerman for 54 to leave the Foxes on 105 for three in the 27th over. With Dippenaar content to work the ball around, it was Paul Nixon who took the attack to Ireland, brilliantly using the reverse-sweep to negate spinners McCallan and Gary Kidd. One six off McCallan proved the highlight as the former England wicket-keeper helped himself to half his 48 runs with the shot
McCallan didn't drop his head and was rewarded with the wicket of Dippenaar, who perished trying to copy his partner, caught at the wicket by Wilson for 69 of 119 balls after a fourth-wicket partnership of 96. Cusack struck in the next over, yorking Nixon two runs shy of his half-century to leave the Foxes on 201-5 in the 44th over. Some fine late hitting from Jacques du Toit (28 not out) and Matthew Boyce (18 not out) brought Leicestershire to 245, although Porterfield did take a stunning one-handed catch off du Toit only for his momentum to bring him over the boundary rope for a six.