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Morea, Vala carry Papua New Guinea hopes

Set 346 for victory after Ireland piles on quick runs, PNG ends penultimate day on 50 for 1

Morea, Vala carry Papua New Guinea hopes - Cricket News
Ireland declared on 244 for 5 to set PNG a target of 346.
Ireland struck an early blow late on the third evening but Papua New Guinea regained some lost ground as their ICC Intercontinental Cup clash lay fascinatingly poised heading into the final day at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, Australia.
 
On an action-packed Tuesday (February 2), Ireland built rapidly on its 101-run advantage in the first innings to declare its second innings closed at 244 for 5 in 64 overs, setting Papua New Guinea a challenging 346 for victory in a possible 109 overs.
 
Tim Murtagh, the wrecker-in-chief in Papua New Guinea’s 188 all out in the first innings, sent opener Lega Siaka packing in the seventh over, caught behind by Niall O’Brien, but Vani Morea and Assad Vala, the first-innings centurion, batted through to stumps without being separated as PNG reached 50 for 1, needing a further 296 for victory.
 
The third morning kicked off with PNG on 166 for 7 in response to Ireland’s 289. The drama began in the day’s third over when George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, sent Norman Vanua packing for 4. Boyd Rankin had Chad Soper caught behind not long thereafter before Murtagh finally ended Vala’s resistance by having him caught and bowled. Overnight 104, Vala was last man dismissed for a patient 120, made off 231 deliveries with just seven fours. That the next highest score of the innings was 22 by Jack Vare, the wicketkeeper-batsman as well as captain, tells a tale in itself.


 
Murtagh ended with 4 for 33, Rankin had figures of 3 for 21 from 18 overs, and Craig Young finished with 2 for 42.
 
Armed with a handy lead, Ireland made a stuttering start to its second essay with captain William Porterfield, fellow-opener Paul Stirling and Niall O’Brien all back in the hut with just 44 on the board, Loa Nou accounting for two of those three wickets. But the experienced Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket association of 76 before falling within nine runs of each other. Joyce’s 58 came off 113 deliveries with four fours while Wilson was even more watchful in compiling 27 off 74 balls with three fours.


 
Ireland was in some strife at 129 for 5 when Kevin O’Brien and Andy McBrine counterpunched in style on their way to an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 115 off 139 deliveries. O’Brien was the primary aggressor as he smashed five fours and two sixes in a 95-ball 75 while McBrine was no slouch either, his unbeaten 40 coming off just 58 deliveries with three fours and a six.
 
Porterfield called his batsmen in, hoping to have a go at PNG for an hour or so before stumps, time enough for Murtagh to build on his first-innings success. Morea and Vala now carry PNG’s hopes of making a match of it – either a dramatic victory, or batting out time to come away with a draw.

To view the full scorecard, please click here.

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