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Ian Callender

Ireland's horrendous luck with the weather this summer followed them to Strabane, but at least it shortened the pain for a side which is being outclassed by the South Africa A team.

While their seniors head to the top of the Test rankings, the wannabees are strutting their stuff in Ireland and the home line-up, without their county stars, are finding it tough going.

When the third and longest shower of the day abandoned the first 50 overs game between the teams, Ireland were struggling at 136 for seven, 68 runs short of their Duckworth/Lewis target in reply to the South Africans' 255 for nine.

Wayne Parnell, for the third match out of three on this tour, was the class bowler on view and although he took only one wicket, the rest of the Ireland batsmen could barely hit a scoring stroke off him.

James Shannon, promoted to No 3 in the absence of Andrew Balbirnie who, along with Max Sorensen, was left out of XI, was the most impressive of the batsmen, proving his 59 on debut in Oak Hill two weeks ago will not be a one-innings wonder.

Only Trent Johnston got anywhere near Shannon's strike rate of 94 and even the Instonians batsman's dismissal, caught on the cover boundary going for his third six, could be excused as he had had watched John Anderson struggling at the other end and took a quick single to claim the strike.

He had scored 33 out of 48 but five balls later Ireland were 48 for four as Kevin O'Brien went first ball, pulling to deep square and Andrew White's poor run continued when he was bowled behind his legs for a third successive duck, the first time that has happened in his 215 Ireland appearances.

Andrew Poynter was remarkably fortunate to survive a hugely confident leg before shout when he had made just two but neither he nor Nigel Jones could cash in as Dean Elgar proved a potent second spinner and sixth bowler Farhaan Behardien needed only one over to join the wicket-takers.

Anderson was top scorer for the second match in a row but runs never flowed easily and he was the most relieved batsmen when Parnell's second spell lasted only two overs. At least he kept out 11 balls.

The Ireland bowling continues to be much more encouraging than the batting. Trent Johnston was again the stand-out - he took three for 33 and actually bowled even better than that, consistently beating the bat, especially in his first seven overs with the new ball when he conceded only 16 runs.

Peter Connell's return to the international scene does not look too good in the scorecard but he also deserved his three wickets with only consistency costing him better figures while, like Connell, Nigel Jones' were ruined at the end as 27 runs came off the last two overs.

Photographs
Stormont, Belfast