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Ireland have to settle for UAE draw

Updated: Friday, 15 Mar 2013 19:11 | Comments

Trent Johnston has now taken 252 wickets
Trent Johnston has now taken 252 wickets

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Ireland settled for a draw in their InterContinental Cup match with UAE, collecting nine points by virtue of having a first innings lead in the contest, which keeps them in pole position in the table on 76 points, ahead of Afghanistan (64) and Scotland (46).

Resuming on 302 for 6, the UAE were hampered by the loss of Saqib Shah, forced to retire hurt with a recurrence of his shoulder injury, sustained on the first day.

That exposed the UAE tail, and Trent Johnston took full advantage, bowling Fayyaz Ahmed to achieve his 250th wicket for Ireland.

He didn't have long to wait for his next two, Ahmed Raza and Mohammed Naveed falling in quick succesion, leaving Swapnil Patil stranded on 89 in their total of 360.

"It's a very flat wicket and it would have been hard on the bowlers to ask them to go out and do it again" - William Porterfield

Those wickets mean Johnston occupies fourth position in the all-time Ireland wicket-takers list, just four behind Kyle McCallan (256), with legendary figures Jimmy Boucher (307) and Dermott Monteith (326) very much in his sights.

Ireland declined to enforce the follow-on despite the UAE being 229 in arrears clearly having one eye on the two crucial World Cup qualifying matches on Monday and Wednesday.

Having been in the field for 138 overs in oppressive heat and with the pitch benign, Ireland opted to rest their bowling attack given the importance of those World Cricket League games.

Ireland lost Paul Stirling (16) early, but skipper William Porterfield and the promoted Andrew White took full advantage of the friendly conditions.

The pair added 133 for the second wicket before White edged behind for 52 - his 18 half-century for his country.

He also passed Stephen Warke to achieve second position in the all-time run aggregates list - only Porterfield is now above him.

Porterfield had missed out on a century in the first innings, but he made no mistake this time, batting fluently to reach his ninth hundred - also a record.

The left-hander had faced 165 balls and struck two sixes and four boundaries.

Three deliveries after he reached the landmark, Ireland declared for the second time in the game, on 188 for 3, and the teams shook hands on a draw.

Porterfield was delighted to have made a century after being dismissed for 82 in the first innings: "I was disappointed to miss out on the first innings, but it was good to get out there today and have enough time to get one under my belt," he said.

"George Dockrell didn't see a ball turn in his 46 overs" - Trent Johnston

On the decision not to enforce the follow-on, or perhaps contrive a run chase with a sporting declaration, the 28-year-old said: "It was something we thought about doing last night, especially when we took those quick wickets in the final session. It was probably still in the balance this morning about what we should do, but as you've seen over the four days, only 19 wickets fell.

"It's a very flat wicket and it would have been hard on the bowlers to ask them to go out and do it again after spending nearly 140 overs in those conditions.

“Some people might think it was negative but we would have been running our bowlers into the ground, and it would be pointless seeing as we've got two massive games coming up next week.

"The game was good from the point of view that it gave everyone a chance to get some competitive cricket under our belts.

"Apart from the lads who went to the Bangladesh Premier League we haven't played cricket for five months, so from that perspective it's been good. It would have been nice to get a win but we knew we were well placed in the table with two games left."

Trent Johnston placed the pitch as one of the three flattest he's ever bowled on - alongside Windhoek in 2005 and Nairobi in 2008: "It was hard out work out there, and very difficult for the bowlers. George (Dockrell) didn't see a ball turn in his 46 overs, while the new ball only swung for about one over in total.

“To get nine points here was good, as I couldn’t see us getting 14 wickets in the day, after only 13 fell on the first three days. The WCL is the priority but I love playing four-day cricket and we are confident of getting enough points against Netherlands and Scotland to make the final.

"I knew I was close to 250 wickets - it's been a great 10 years for me with the Irish team, and it's nice to have those little milestones. I've still got a few goals and that’s the first one ticked off."

Johnston paid tribute to his record-breaking colleagues Andrew White and William Porterfield saying: "Whitey was a senior player when I came into the team, and he has carried on proving how good he is.

"He has been a colossus for us in this competition - when we don’t have the county players he has stepped up and got big runs.

"Porty’s work ethic is phenomenal and what he gets he deserves. He is turning into a great leader and he is quite capable of getting 10,000 runs.

"Let’s hope he can do that and continue to win games for Ireland."

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