Namibia, Ireland Lead ICC Intercontinental Cup

Namibia and the defending champions Ireland share the lead in the International Cricket Council’s Intercontinental Cup tournament, following completion of their first round matches.

The two nations are the only teams to have won their first round matches so far and lead the log with 20 points each.

Namibia won the opening match of the series when they beat Hong Kong by 114 runs in Windhoek on 13 May, but Ireland joined them at the top after crushing UAE by an innings and 26 runs in Dublin last week.

Ireland’s victory was built around a brilliant innings of 231 runs off 232 balls by Ed Joyce which included 29 fours and three sixes.

Joyce put on 231 runs for the second wicket with Paul Stirling, who scored 146, before the whole team was out for 492 runs.

Ireland’s bowling attack then pressed home the aantage, dismissing UAE for 213 and 253, with fast bowler Craig Young taking seven wickets for 110 runs in the first innings, and left arm spinner George Dockrell taking match figures of seven for 141.

Shaiman Anwar, UAE’s star performer at this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, was the top scorer with 57 in the first innings, while wicketkeeper Swapnil Patel with 63 was the top scorer in the second innings.

Ireland captain Ian Porterfield praised Joyce for his record contribution, which broke Eoin Morgan’s record for the highest individual score for Ireland.

“Ed Joyce’s record score for Ireland was a great effort,” Ireland captain Ian Porterfield said after the match, adding: “Paul Stirling also played well and really pleased for him to get 146. They set up the game for us.”

Porterfield once again reiterated the importance of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2015-17.

“The ICC Intercontinental Cup is a massively important competition. We spoke about it briefly after the England game, it’s a pathway to Test cricket and we have to take every opportunity we can get. It will be difficult to take 20 wickets in some matches, so it was important to get the maximum 20 points in the first match.”

In another first round match, Scotland hosted Afghanistan in Stirling last week but the rain-affected match ended in a draw.

Scotland, batting first, scored 233 with captain Preston Mommsen scoring 77. In turn, Afghanistan were dismissed for 135 with Samiullah Shenwari scoring 51 not out and left-arm spinner Con de Lange taking three for 21.

The result gave Scotland 13 first-innings lead points while Afghanistan had to settle for seven points.

The first round of the Intercontinental Cup will be concluded later this month when the Netherlands host Papua New Guinea in Amsterdam.

The Intercontinental Cup will take a back seat next month when all these teams will compete in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifying tournament in Ireland and Scotland. The top six teams here will qualify for the 2016 T20 World Cup.

Namibia’s next match in the Intercontinental Cup will be a top-of-the-log clash when they host Ireland in October, and Porterfield said he was already looking forward to it.

“We’re aware it’s just the first game of seven, and we’re already looking forward to playing Namibia in the next series later in the year – it should be quite a match,” he said.

Source : The Namibian