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Match Report
Ian Callender

Day 1
Paul Stirling's sixth international century led an Ireland runs feast on the first day of their Intercontinental Cup match against Canada at Rathmines yesterday. Stirling hit 107 as Ireland finished the day on 435 for seven. Only once before has an Ireland side scored more runs in a day, four years ago in Abu Dhabi when, with the help of an unbeaten 182 from Eoin Morgan, they amassed 461 for two.

This was, arguably, an even better effort on a much softer pitch although the Canada bowling was just as weak as the UAE's in 2007 and their fielding was even worse. But, you can only score runs against the team put in front of you and only Andrew Poynter and Andrew White could have said to have failed. White owed the Ireland team nothing after his undefeated 145 runs in the prvious week's victory against Namibia but his 19 runs still came at a run-a-ball.

However, he was left in the shade first by an opening stand of 155 in just 37 overs between Stirling - who hit 18 fours and two sixes - and Gary Wilson, whose 61 was highest score in the competition and matched his previous best this year, against West Indies in the World Cup. Alex Cusack played a typical rearguard innings but he was no slouch with 81 from 127 balls but the innings of the day, not for the first time, came from Kevin O'Brien who was able to raise his bat for the first time since his record-breaking century against England in Bangalore.

He made 79 from just 59 deliveries, with 12 fours and his 99th six. He was, not surprisingly, caught at long-off going for the landmark maximum. Young Stuart Poynter, in only his second game, maintained the momentum with a run-a-ball 31 and Ireland still have John Mooney, after a non-risk 25 off 69 balls, and George Dockrell, on the back of his 50 last week, to resume on Day 2.

Canada will have to bat much better than they have bowled or fielded if they are to avoid an innings defeat.

Day 2 After one of the most action-packed day's cricket imaginable, Ireland hammered Canada in their Intercontinental Cup match at Rathmines with two days to spare.

An Ireland total of 435 for seven on the first day was satisfying enough, but for entertainment it paled in comparision to yesterday's astonishing proceedings when 23 wickets fell for 478 runs as Canada's batting matched their poor bowling and woeful fielding. Set 313 to avoid the follow-on, after Ireland were bowled out in 40 minutes for the addition of just 27 runs, the Canadians were shot out in their first innings for 194 and with Ireland claiming the extra half hour to finish the scheduled four-day match in half the time, George Dockrell took the last wicket with six minutes to spare; Canada all out for a second time in the day for 257.

Yet, it was not the Ireland bowling which will live in the memory, rather the kamikaze Canada batting which hurried this game to its conclusion. The first innings lasted only 44 overs - a run rate of 4.4 - the second was even quicker with a run rate over five. And they were supposed to be saving the match! One man's tactics were justified. Riswan Cheema knows only one-way to play and yesterday he made Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien look pedestrian as he thumped 97 off 45 balls with 10 sixes and six fours. His innings lasted only 58 minutes but it was wonderful viewing while it lasted.

Not that it helped his team because at the other end the other players couldn't help themselves in trying to follow his heroics and on a wicket taking turn it was manna from heaven for Dockrell who took five wickets in the day and Albert van der Merwe eight. And for the last 68 overs of the day, Ireland had two substitutes on the field after a horror collision between Stirling and O'Brien, both going for the same catch. The captain kicked Stirling on the head as they landed, leaving him with a stiff neck and O'Brien with a sore shoulder and a bruised toe.

Fortunately, both expect to be fit to take on Canada in the World Cup qualifying matches at Clontarf on 19 and 20 September, when, if this match's evidence is anything to go by, Canada will be much more dangerous opponents. O'Brien, captain for the last two days, before giving it back to William Porterfield next week, was delighted with the performance that eased his pain.

"I just forgot about my injury there for a while when we got the 10th wicket but it was a great effort from us. Although we probably gave a few too many boundary balls but we were always bowling wicket-taking balls. To take 17 wickets in two sessions to win a match in two days is fantastic. "I'm sure Phil Simmons might give us a couple of days off, well I hope he does because I'm planning a little trip away. I'm sure when we get back together on Sunday for training we'll have our one-day heads on and obviously the guys will be flying in from England, so it's going to be a new-look squad as such."

Photographs
Day 1
Day 2
Rathmines, Dublin