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Day 1: WILSON AND PORTERFIELD GIVE IRELAND ADVANTAGE ON FIRST DAY

Gary Wilson and William Porterfield gave Ireland a solid start to their crucial four-day game against Hong Kong at Stormont on Tuesday as John Bracewell's charges eyed the chance to go top of the Intercontinental Cup table.

Winning the toss and batting first Ireland posted a total of 316 all out with both batsmen falling just short of deserved centuries.

Porterfield and Ed Joyce got things going with a 53-run opening stand before Joyce nicked one to the cordon and was out for 26- the first of four victims for the impressive Tanwir Afzal (4-63).

John Anderson (13), Niall O'Brien (14), Paul Stirling (20) and Kevin OBrien (6) came and went after that as Ireland faced trial by spin but the skipper remained defiant before being trapped leg before by Nadeem Ahmed for 88.

Porterfield's knock contained 12 fours and a six and was ended by the defiant left-armer who bowled 26 overs on the trot to finish with figures of 4-73.

Wilson was still there though and he and George Dockrell- back in the side after a good performances at Interprovincial level- added 65 for the 7th wicket before Dockrell fell to Tanwir for 32 (6 fours).

Unfortunately for Surrey batsman Wilson however, he too was to come up just short of his personal milestone- caught behind the wicket off the bowling of Tanwir for 95 (13 fours and a six)- an excellent effort nonetheless.

A final total of 316 was probably above par on a turning track as far as the home side were concerned but Ireland's cause was aided by a few missed chances from Hong Kong in the field.

Hong Kong had seven overs to negotiate themselves before play ended for the day and negotiate them they did, but only just as George Dockrell could consider himself unfortunate not to claim one lbw verdict with his first delivery.

Day 2: IRELAND SECURE FIRST INNINGS POINTS AGAINST STUBBORN HONG KONG

Ireland seized the initiative on Day 2 of their Intercontinental Cup clash against Hong Kong at Stormont after William Porterfield's men bowled the visitors out for 237 just before the close to earn themselves a 79-run first-innings lead in the four-day contest.

Craig Young gave the hosts the perfect start as Hong Kong resumed on their overnight score of 2 without loss; the Bready pace bowler claiming the wickets of Aizah Khan and skipper Babar Hyatt in the space of three deliveries in just the third over of the morning.

To be fair the visitors rallied well after that setback as Ninad Shah and Nisakat Khan then set about repairing the damage. The pair posted a century stand before both fell in quick succession; a pattern that was to be repeated throughout the day.

Shah hit 5 fours in his patient, 141-ball 38 while Khan found the rope 8 times on his way to a battling 69.

Waqaz Khan and Anshuman Rath reduced the arrears still further as they added 64 but once again it was to be a case of two wickets falling together as Waqaz (27) and new man Christopher Carter (0) were dismissed by Peter Chase and Paul Stirling respectively.

Rath battled on manfully but Ireland were now on the scent and the hosts went double yet again soon after with George Dockrell tempting Tanwir Afzal into a rush of blood and an easy stumping for Niall O'Brien while Chase trapped Ehsan Khan dead in front in the next over.

At 211-8 the home side were well on top and eyeing the 6 bonus points for a first innings lead that would take them back to the top of the table. And despite Rath's resistance, they didn't have long to wait as Dockrell tidied it up with the wickets of Nadseem and Tanvir before the scheduled close.

Dockrell (3-46) and Chase (3-50) fared best of the attack although Young also got through plenty of work for his 2-64.

Rath was unbeaten on 73 (7 fours) at the end, an excellent effort in the circumstances, but Ireland now have something to build on when they start on Thursday at 11am with that 79-run advantage.

Day 3: IRELAND STAY ON TOP DESPITE RAIN CURTAILED THIRD DAY

Ireland remained on top against Hong Kong in their InterContinental Cup clash at Stormont despite 45 overs being lost in the day due to a combination of rain and bad light on a stop-start day.

The Irish continued to play positively throughout scoring at a rate of around four an over in an attempt to force a result depite the best efforts of the Belfast weather.

Ed Joyce scored a fluent 37 from 55 balls sharing an opening stand of 53 with skipper William Porterfield, before being unluckily dismissed when he hit his wicket - the second time this has happened to the left-hander in recent years.

He had been dismissed in this fashion to Boyd Rankin at Malahide in 2013 - before then the last player to be dismissed hit wicket for the Irish was Kenny Carroll back in 2007 - the fearsome Dale Steyn was the bowler on that occasion.

John Anderson and Porterfield added a further 48 before the skipper was bowled for 29. Niall O'Brien (15) and Paul Stirling (6) both went cheaply, but John Anderson's fourth half century for Ireland ensured they were always on top.

The Merrion man top scored with 59 from 112 balls (5 fours) before mistiming an attempted hook shot.

Gary Wilson scored a breezy 25 before being trapped lbw two balls before the umpires decided that the light was too poor to continue.

Skipper William Porterfield indicated that Ireland would bat on in the morning - probably hoping to set Hong Kong a target of around 330.

Day 4: IRELAND LEAVE IT LATE BUT CLAIM CRUCIAL WIN OVER HONG KONG

Ireland maintained their 100% Intercontinental Cup record at Stormont on Friday with a solid 70-run win over Hong Kong despite a defiant century from the visitors' Nizakat Khan.

Set 310 to win from 97 overs on the final day, Hong Kong rarely looked on course with only Babar Hyatt (28) and Christopher Carter (21) offering much in the way of resistance. Nizakat however was a much tougher nut to crack and while he took advantage of several reprieves, his was a fantastic effort in the circumstances.

Tim Murtagh (4-29) it was who finally ended the batsman's 182-ball stay, Nizakat the last wicket to fall with 14 fours and a six in his 123.

Indeed it was a relieved home camp that greeted the end of a stubborn 61-run stand with Nadeem Ahmed (28) for the 9th wicket as Ireland wore Hong Kong down.

Kevin O'Brien (2-36) and George Dockrell (2-57) provided the back up to Murtagh as the visitors reply finally closed on 239 all out.

Earlier in the day William Porterfield's men added just 31 to their overnight score of 199-6 as Afzal (3-53) and Nadeem (3-65) tidied things up pretty quickly.

Another 20 points and a 19-point gap between Ireland and second-placed Afghanistan in the table will no doubt please Head Coach John Bracewell, but he will know his side had to work very hard for the win.

As for the Intercontinental Cup it's a top-of-the-table clash next up for Ireland in India during March 2017.

Photographs
Day 1
Day 4
Stormont, Belfast