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Niall O’Brien leads Ireland to 232/5 on first day

Good hands from Stirling, Joyce and Wilson drive table-toppers, but PNG stays in the game with regular strikes

Niall O’Brien leads Ireland to 232/5 on first day
 - Cricket News
Ireland enjoyed solid contributions from its middle order, but Papua New Guinea's bowlers made frequent strikes to ensure the opening day of their ICC Intercontinental Cup match at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville ended on an even keel. 

Ireland was 113 for 2 at one stage but lost ground eventually to finish on 232 for 5 on Sunday (January 31). 

PNG enjoyed an early breakthrough after electing to field when Norman Vanua, the right-arm medium pacer, had William Porterfield, the captain, caught for 15. Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce then put on 54 for the second wicket before Loa Nou, the right-arm medium pacer, and Vanua's new-ball partner, put PNG back on top with the scalp of Stirling, who was bowled. He had made 42 with four boundaries. 

The spinner then came to the fore for PNG. Niall O'Brien, the wicketkeeper, who top-scored with 63, and Joyce, had put on 38 for the third wicket before the latter was stumped off Mahuru Dai's leg-spin. 

Gary Wilson then joined Niall and the duo kept the PNG bowlers at bay for 23 overs, putting on 69 for the fourth wicket, the highest partnership Ireland managed during the day. That resistance came to an end when Wilson fell two short of a half-century, trapped leg before by Chad Soper, the right-arm medium pacer. Wilson had scored 48 in an 81-ball knock that contained five boundaries. 

Niall would carry on and add a further 49 for the fifth wicket with Kevin, his brother before Vanua struck for a second time, having him caught to end  a 168-ball vigil. Kevin and Andy McBrine then saw off the remaining nine deliveries.

PNG's bowlers hunted in a pack. While Vanua led the way with 2 for 47, Nou, Soper and Dai took a wicket apiece. 

Ireland is unbeaten in the competition so far, having won both its matches, against United Arab Emirates and Namibia, by an innings. PNG opened its campaign with a five-wicket win over Netherlands before suffering a 201-run loss against Afghanistan.  

Click here to view the full scorecard.

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