Monday, May 30, 2011

brilliant Ireland make 238

Ireland v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Belfast

Stirling ton carries Ireland to 238

Gerard Siggins
May 30, 2011
A brilliant, belligerent century by Paul Stirling gave Ireland hope of levelling the two-match RSA Series in Belfast today.
Stirling, a 20-year-old from the north side of this city, played an innings that alternated between control and raw aggression as he racked up his third ODI century - his first against a Full Member.
It was an innings of maturity for a man who has his critics in Irish cricket. Stirling has too often been a player who raced to thrilling thirties and forties but rarely went on. His highest score against a full member to date was 52.
Paul Stirling
But an Irish record one-day score of 177 against Canada in September showed what could be achieved and he rounded off the recent World Cup with a blistering ton against Netherlands. That innings was the third-fastest century in the competition's history, behind only Kevin O'Brien and Matthew Hayden.
He thrashed three sixes and seven fours in his innings of 109, which backboned Ireland's total of 238 for eight.
On the pitch used for Saturday's rain affected game - and after a day of warm sun in between - William Porterfield opted to take first use. Ireland persevered with their decision to promote Ed Joyce to open, although the Sussex batsman was rarely fluent as Junaid Khan and Umar Gul made use of the overcast conditions.
Stirling, meanwhile, played in his usual manner and was 38 when Ireland passed fifty.
Misbah-ul-Haq turned to the spin of Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Hafeez to slow things down, and was immediately rewarded with the wicket of Joyce. Ajmal extracted some extra bounce and Joyce edged to Mohammed Salman with the score on 65.
Porterfield joined Stirling and saw the younger player reach his fifty off 43 balls. The pair hoisted the hundred in the 22nd over when Stirling hoicked the ball over wide mid-on for six.
Pakistan preferred Hammad Azam to Tanvir Ahmed, and the Rawalpindi bowler's gentle medium proved useful in the conditions. But it was Mohammed Hafeez who dismissed Porterfield, bowled for 15.
Stirling progressed steadily, but was watchful to the spinners and the rate slowed as Ajmal extracted turn. He raced into the nineties with a sumptuous cover drive, but took six more overs to reach 100, which he did with a straight drive past the bowler Hammad. He passed the century mark in 94 balls.
Rain, which had threatened several times, eventually forced the players off for 15 minutes but no overs were lost.
Alex Cusack played a typical innings as second foil to a more aggressive batsman, and took the total up to 174 before he fell charging Ajmal. He fell in the second over of the Powerplay, which Ireland struggled to exploit.
Stirling was dropped by Junaid who made an awful hash of a gentle hook to fine leg off Ajmal. But Junaid made amends next ball when he bowled Stirling for 109.
Gary Wilson came out to cheers in his 100th appearance for Ireland, but although he hit the last two balls of the Powerplay for four, the five-over period yielded a miserable 23 for 2. Kevin O'Brien again showed a mere flash of his Bangalore form before he was caught at long-off.
Wilson made a bright 33 off 25 balls to lift Ireland to 238 for eight, which gave the home side hope. Saeed Ajmal was the stand-out bowler and fully deserved his 4 for 35.

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