Just 67 runs needed to beat Namibia with nine wickets in hand heading into day four
Ireland is on the brink of making history in Port Elizabeth and now needs just 67 runs to become the first team to register three ICC Intercontinental Cup victories in a row, against a Namibia team that seems finally to have run out of steam.
It has been a match that has swung to and fro during the first three days but now it seems the pendulum is firmly on the Ireland side at this late stage in the game.
Having been set a reasonably competitive target of 201 to win, Ireland's openers set about their task with a steely determination. Niall O'Brien and William Porterfield put on 68 for the first wicket and it really seemed to break the spirit of the Namibians.
Even though Ireland has not managed to get past 200 against Namibia in the 2007-08 edition of this tournament, the Africans did not bowl with the same verve or consistency as they did in the first innings or, for that matter, in Windhoek when the two met in the group stage a month ago.
At the close, Ireland had moved on to 134-1 with Porterfield having lobbed a simple catch for Bjorn Kotze at mid-on for 34 before Alex Cusack came in and erased any thoughts Namibia might have had of a comeback.
Cusack batted superbly in the first innings making an unbeaten 95 and he took off where he left off second time around, watching and waiting for the bad ball before pouncing and sending it to the boundary rope. At the close he had moved on to 19 not out.
Meanwhile, having got a duck in the first dig, O'Brien looked like a man out to make amends. He remains unbeaten on 77 and could be heading to the first century of this year's final and his third in the tournament so far.
Earlier, Ireland's bowlers did a job on Namibia and restricted it to 145 all out with Peter Connell adding three wickets to the five he bagged in the first innings. Boyd Rankin took 4-39 and Andre Botha - playing in his 100th match for Ireland - took 2-28 as Namibia struggled to cope with the nagging consistency and occasional ferocity of Ireland's pace attack.
Only JB Burger (34) and Gerrie Snyman (31) put up any resistance and the fact the Namibians had eyed 300 rather than 200 as the target it wanted to leave Porterfield's men, it is no wonder they looked a little flat when they took the field to defend 200.
But even though Porterfield may have one hand on the cup, he has warned against complacency from his players as they seek the 67 runs required.
"I wouldn't say we are home and dry yet," said the 24-year-old from Donemana in Ireland?s north-west.
"We are not counting our chickens but we did a lot of work in the third session to put ourselves in a very good position. We are off to a good start. Hopefully we can go out tomorrow and do the job.
"It's a pretty good deck and we are confident of chasing 200. Obviously, we didn't do it the first time when we got off to a terrible start at 37-5. They have a good opening attack so it wasn't going to be easy but we went out and played positively and it's going alright.
"If we go out in the morning and play well for the first half hour or 40 minutes we'll be in a strong position and hopefully come tomorrow lunchtime we'll have the cup in our hands," he said.
The full scorecard from the match so far can be found at www.icc-cricket.com. Live scores on the ICC website are provided by Cricinfo.
Hours of play:
First session - 1030-1230
Second session - 1315-1510
Third session - 1530-1730
The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception four years ago and now the ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members' cricket schedule.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event has evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in both events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider and Canada in the 2006-07 event.
The ICC website is carrying live scores from the match as well as photographs, audio interviews and daily reports. This is located at: www.icc-cricket.com. All these are free to use for editorial purposes.